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THE LIBRARY 

of 

VICTORIA UNIVERSITY 

Toronto 



OGIER GHISELIN 
DE BUSBECO 



VOL. I. 




AVGERrVS GISLENVS BVSBEQVIVS. 
^"Hx voce, ^V^cri , tmUcmtem Cessans aures 
Lmdmit- plaujis ^Mif^rius Ifter aqids . 
Hx Ducts Ismary Jiefimtcm ^efiora yerhis 
■ (Tfrmx rapUo ^olofhipwt Bos^hcmis c pla^o. 
'Te £esfisfe domum prp nata Cc£saris , ingens 
Se^uana covj^exit , Tarisy^ lares 

1 . S^erroiti-us . 



• Typa^!-o.ph,ic Eickiirt d Photo Sc 



THE 



LIFE AND LETTERS 



OF 



OGIER GHISELIN DE BUSBECQ 

SEIGNEUR OF BOUSBECQUE 
KNIGHT, IMPERIAL AMBASSADOR 



BY 

CHARLES THORNTON FORSTER, M.A. 

Late Fellmv of Jesus College, Cambridge : Vicar of Hinxton 
AND 

F. H. BLACKBURNE DANIELL, M.A. 

Late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge : Barrisier-at-Law 



TloKKSiv av^ptii-KQiv fSei/ fto-Tfo koX v6ov lyva 



IN TWO VOLUMES 

VOL. I. 



LONDON 
C. KEGAN PAUL & CO., i PATERNOSTER SQUARE 

1881 



22(o 

BaAs 

V.I 

KEF. & REN. 






( 7'Ae rights of translation and of reproduction are reserved) 



TO 

MONSIEUR JEAN DALLE 

MAIRE OF BOUSBECQUE 

AS A SLIGHT ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HIS KINDNESS 

AND THE VALUABLE ASSISTANCE WE HAVE 

DERIVED FROM HIS RESEARCHES 

THESE VOLUMES ARE RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED 



PREFACE. 

We ask to be allowed to introduce the Reader to a 
kind and genial cicerone, who can take him back, three 
centuries deep, into the Past, and show him the Turk 
as he was when he dictated to Europe instead of 
Europe dictating to him ; or conjure once more into 
life Catherine de Medici, Navarre, Alengon, Guise, 
Marguerite the fair and frail, and that young Queen, 
whom he loved so well and served so faithfully. 



CONTENTS 

OF 

THE FIRST VOLUME. 



Life of 


BUSBECQ 




Turkish 


Letter 


I. 


r» 


}j 


II. 


» 


» 


III. 


J' 


It 


IV. 



PAGE 
I 

75 
174 
192 



Errata. 



The references in footnotes on pp. 105-250, to other passages in this volume 
after p. 72, should be advanced by 2 pages, e.g. for 163, read 165. 



LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



Introdttctory. 

The days are now past when students were content to 
take their history at second hand, and there is there- 
fore the less reason to apologise for introducing to the 
reader, in an English dress, the letters of one who was 
an eyewitness and actor in some of the most important 
events in the sixteenth century. 

Several of the most striking passages in Robert- 
son's History of Charles V. are taken from Busbecq ; 
De Thou has borrowed largely from his letters ; and 
the pages of Gibbon, Coxe, Von Hammer, Ranke, 
Creasy, and Motley, testify to the value of informa- 
tion derived from this source. It must not, however, 
be supposed that all that is historically valuable in his 
writings has found a place in the works of modern 
authors. On the contrary, the evidence which Busbecq 
furnishes has often been forgotten or ignored. 

A remarkable instance of this neglect is to be found 
in Prescott's account of the capture of Djerb6,^ or 
Gelves, by the Turks. The historian of Philip II. has 
made up this part of his narrative from the conflicting 
and vainglorious accounts of Spanish writers, and does 
not even allude to the plain, unvarnished tale which 

1 See Prescott, Philip II.., book iv. chap. i. 
VOL. I. K 



LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



Busbecq tells— a tale which he must have heard from 
the lips of the commander of the Christian forces, 
his friend Don Alvaro de Sande, and which he 
had abundant opportunities of verifying from other 
sources. 

The revival of the Eastern Question has drawn 
attention in France ^ to the career and policy of one 
who was so successful as an ambassador at Constanti- 
nople, and the life of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq has 
been the subject of two treatises at least since i860, 
while a far more important work dealing with our 
author's life is about to issue from the press. Of this 
last we have been allowed to see the proof-sheets, and 
we take this opportunity of expressing our obligation 
to the author. Monsieur Jean Dalle, Maire de Bous- 
becque. His book is a perfect storehouse of local 
information, and must prove invaluable to any future 
historian of the Flemings. It is entitled Histoire de 
Botisbecque. 

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 
hardly any author was so popular as Busbecq. More 
than twenty editions ^ of his letters were published in 
the literary capitals of Europe — Antwerp, Paris, Bale, 
Frankfort, Hanau, Munich, Louvain, Leipsic, London, 
Oxford and Glasgow. His merits as a recorder of 
contemporary history are briefly sketched by a writer 
of that period, who thus describes his despatches to 
Rodolph : ' C'est un portrait au naturel des affaires de 
France sous le r^gne de Henri HI. II raconte les 
choses avec une naivete si grande qu'elles semblent se 
passer a nos yeux. On ne trouve point ailleurs tant 
de faits historiques en si peu de discours. Les grands 

^ The Society of Sciences, Agriculture, and Arts at Lille has for 
several years been offering a prize for an essay on Busbecq's life. 
^ See Appendix, List of Editions. 



HIS MERITS AS A WRITER. 



mouvemens, comme la conspiration d'Anvers, et les 
petites intrigues de la cour y sont egalement bien 
marquees. Les attitudes (pour ainsi dire) dans lesquelles 
il met Henri III., la Reine Mere, le due d'Alen^on, le 
roi de Navarre, la reine Marguerite, le due de Guise, 
le due d'Espernon, et les autres Courtisans ou Favoris 
de ce tems-la, nous les montrent du cote qui nous en 
decouvre, a coup seur, le fort et le foible, le bon et le 



mauvais.' ^ 



All who have studied the letters of Busbecq will 
endorse this opinion ; nor is it possible for anyone 
even superficially acquainted with his writings, not to 
recognise the work of a man who combined the rarest 
powers of observation with the greatest industry and 
the greatest honesty. 

He was eminently what is called 'a many-sided 
man'; nothing is above him, nothing' beneath him. 
His political information is important to the soberest 
of historians, his gossiping details would gladden a 
Macaulay ; the Imperial Library at Vienna is rich 
with manuscripts and coins of his collection. To him 
scholars owe the first copy of the famous Monu- 
mentum Ancyranum. We cannot turn to our gardens 
without seeing the flowers of Busbecq around us — 
the lilac, the tulip, the syringa. So much was the 
first of these associated with the man who first 
introduced it to the West, that Bernardin de Saint 
Pierre proposed to change its name from lilac to 
Busbequia. Throughout his letters will be found hints 
for the architect, the physician, the philologist, and the 
statesman ; he has stories to charm a child, and tales 
to make a grey-beard weep, 

^ Milangcs a'Histoire et de LUtirature, vol. i. p. 48, edition of 1702. 
The author is Noel d'Argonne, who wrote under the assumed name of 
de Vigneul-Marville. 

B 2 



LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



Of his careful and scientific investigations it is 
almost unnecessary to cite examples. Never having 
seen a camelopard, and finding that one had been 
buried at Constantinople, he had the animal dug up, 
and a careful examination made of its shape and capa- 
bilities. On his second journey to Constantinople he 
took a draughtsman with him, to sketch any curious 
plants and animals he might find. He sent his phy- 
sician to Lemnos to make investigations with regard 
to Lemnian earth — a medicine famous in those days ; 
while he despatched an apothecary of Pera to the Lake 
of Nicomedia to gather acorus^ for his friend Mat- 
tioli, the celebrated botanist. 

While furnishing information of the highest value, 
Busbecq never assumes the air of a pedant. He tells 
his story in a frank and genial way, not unlike that of 
the modern newspaper correspondent. If to combine 
amusement and instruction is the highest art in this 
branch of literature, he would have been invaluable 
as a member of the staff of some great newspaper. 
Among books, Kinglake's Eothen is perhaps the nearest 
parallel to Busbecq's Turkish letters ; the former is 
more finished in style — Busbecq evidently did not 
retouch his first rough draft — but it does not contain 
one tithe of the information. Such is the author for 
whom we venture to ask the attention of the English 
reader. 

Even to those who can read the elegant Latin in 
which he wrote, it is hoped that the notes and articles 
appended may be found interesting and useful. They 
have been gleaned from many different quarters, and 
to a great extent from books inaccessible to the ordi- 
nary student. This is specially the case with the 
Sketch af Hungarian History during the Reign of 

^ The sweet or aromatic flag. 



HIS WORK AS A DIPLOMATIST. 



Solyman. In no modern writer were we able to find 
more than scattered hints and allusions to the history 
of Hungary during this important epoch, when it 
formed the battle-field on which the Christian and the 
Mussulman were deciding the destinies of Europe. 

The object of Busbecq's mission was to stay, by 
the arts of diplomacy, the advance of the Asiatic 
conqueror, to neutralise in the cabinet the defeats of 
Essek and Mohacz. In this policy he was to a great 
extent successful. He gained time ; and in such a 
case time is everything. What he says of Ferdinand 
is eminently true of himself^ 

There are victories of which the world hears much 
—great battles, conquered provinces, armies sent be- 
neath the yoke — but there is also the quiet work of 
the diplomatist, of which the world hears little. In 
the eyes of those who measure such work aright, not 
even the hero of Lepanto or the liberator of Vienna 
will hold a higher place among the champions of 
Christendom than Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. 



Removal of the RtMish. 

For the rebuilding of a house, it is absolutely ne- 
cessary to remove the rubbish with which the site is 
encumbered. Unfortunately, the process is equally 
necessary in writing the life of Busbecq. There is 
rubbish of ancient date and rubbish of modern date, 
which cannot be ignored and must be removed. With 
regard to one story, a writer of the present time is 
specially bound to protest. It is to be found in the 
treatise of Monsieur Rouziere, entitled. Notice sur 
Aiiger de Btisbecq, Avibassadeur dti Roi Ferdinand i^"' 

' See Fourth Turkish letter adfinem. 



LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



en Ttirquie, et de V Empereur Rodolphe II. en France. 
There is the more need for warning the reader against 
it, because Monsieur Rouziere ushers in his narrative 
with a long- tirade ag^ainst similar inventions. ' He is 
not,' he tells us, ' a professor of history, or one of those 
knights of the quill who wander from town to town 
discovering documents which, like the Sleeping Beauty, 
are waiting for the champion who is to break the 
enchanter's spell.' Monsieur Rouziere is specially 
bitter against ' un Americain qui vient de mourir en 
parcourant I'Europe pour faire des decouvertes his- 
toriques, et qui a I'Escurial avait fait la trouvaille d'une 
relation sur la mort de don Carlos ecrite par son valet- 
de-chambre.' With this preamble, he introduces his 
readers to the following story, which is simply a 
romance of his own creation : 

' When Charles V. came to Flanders for the pur- 
pose of installing his sister Mary, Queen of Hungary, 
in the government, he visited Comines, in company 
with Gilles Ghiselin, Seigneur of Bousbecque, father of 
the Ambassador. As they were entering the town, the 
Seigneur, entreating Charles to wait for a few moments, 
knocked at the door of a house, which, though unpre- 
tentious, had a dignity of its own. Out of it issued 
a boy with sparkling eyes ; so interesting was his 
appearance, that the words, ' O ! what a lovely child ! ' 
burst from the emperor's lips. The Seigneur bade 
the boy kneel down. ' Ogier,' said he, ' look Avell at 
your lord; when you are older you will serve him 
as faithfully as your father and grandfather.' He then 
informed the emperor that, not having any legitimate 
children, he had allowed all his love to centre on this 
offshoot, who, he fondly hoped, would one day be 
admitted into his family.' 

Monsieur Rouziere is certainly not fortunate in his 



rouzi£re and huysmans. 



story ; ^ the Seigneur's name was George^ and not Gilles, 
and he had, moreover, three legitimate children. A 
house at Coniines is shown as the scene of this event, 
but from inquiries made on the spot, we have ascer- 
tained that there is no tradition connecting it with 
Busbecq earlier than the publication of Monsieur 
Rouziere's treatise in i860. He is a lively and 
amusing writer. It is the more to be regretted that he 
has not regarded the line which separates biography 
from romance. 

Monsieur Huysmans, the well-known French artist, 
has also laid the foundation of several errors in the 
striking picture which has been purchased by the 
Belgian Government, and now adorns the Hotel de 
Ville of Belgian Comines. Its artistic merits make 
one regret the more that he did not select one of the 
many dramatic events in Busbecq's life, instead of 
giving us a scene which not only is not recorded, but 
never could have happened. In the first place, the 
date 1555 is wrong; in no case could the scene have 
taken place earlier than 1556. Secondly, Monsieur 
Huysmans has been led into error by a loose transla 
tion in the French version of Busbecq's letters by 

^ Monsieur Rouziere being a complete stranger to the neighbourhood. 
Monsieur Jean Dalle, the present Maire of Bousbecque, acted as his 
cicerone. Before going away. Monsieur Rouziere selected an old house 
in Comines to which he attached his legend ; this house is now shown as 
the birthplace of the Ambassador, on the authority of a man who could 
have had no acquaintance with the traditions of the place. On the other 
hand, Monsieur Dalle's family have resided in the neighbourhood from 
time immemorial, and Monsieur Dalle himself has for the last twenty 
years taken the keenest interest in the subject. He tells us that there is 
not the slightest evidence connecting the house with Busbecq, and that 
no one ever heard of the story till after the pubhcation of Monsieur 
Rouziere's brochure in i860. 

^ That the name of Busbecq's father was George — and not, as usually 
supposed, Gilles (^gidius) — is established by the deed of legitimation, a 
copy of which is given in the Appendix. 



LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



the Abb6 de Foy. For some time Busbecq was con- 
fined to his house by the Turkish authorities. De 
Foy, in speaking of this curtailment of his liberty, uses 
the expression ' une etroite prison ' (whence, by the 
way, some have supposed that Busbecq was confined 
in the Seven Towers). Monsieur Huysmans, led 
astray by this phrase, and imagining that the Ambas- 
sador was confined in a prison, straightway concluded 
that if he was imprisoned he must have been arrested. 
On this he grounded the subject of his work, ' Soliman 
fait arreter Busbecq, diplomat Flamand, Constanti- 
nople, 1555.' There is also a striking error in the 
persons represented in the picture. When Busbecq 
first arrived at Constantinople Roostem was in dis- 
grace, and Achmet held the post of chief Vizier. The 
latter had only consented to accept the seal of office 
on condition that the Sultan undertook never to re- 
move him. The Sultan kept his word. When it was 
convenient to reinstate Roostem, he did not deprive 
Achmet of the seal of office, but of his life. The 
execution of Achmet is one of the most striking scenes 
recorded by Busbecq. Unfortunately, Monsieur 
Huysmans had not studied his subject sufficiently, for 
in his picture Roostem is in office, and Achmet stands 
by as a subordinate. 

As to errors of a less recent date, they are, for the 
most part, such as an intelligent reader of Busbecq's 
letters may correct for himself. For instance, it is not 
hard to prove that the author of the life prefixed to 
the Elzevir edition is wrong in stating that Busbecq's 
father died before the Ambassador went to England, 
when we find that he had an interview with him after 
his return from our island. Neither is there much 
danger of the veriest tiro being led astray by De Foy's 
suggestion that, when Busbecq came to England for 



DE FOY AND HOWAERT. 

J*! 



the marriage of Philip and Mary, he had long con- 
versations with Henry VIII., who tried to induce him 
to enter his service. There is, however, danger in 
Howaert's ^ statement that Busbecq accompanied the 
younger sons of Maximilian to Spain, and introduced 
them to Philip. The story is not impossible in itself, 
nor is it even improbable. But there is this suspicious 
circumstance about it ; those who mention it do not 
seem to be aware that Busbecq did accompany the 
two elder sons of Maximilian, Rodolph and Ernest, to 
Spain in the capacity of ' l^ctiyer trenchant! This 
latter fact is established on the best of authorities, 
namely, the Patent of knighthood issued by the Em- 
peror Ferdinand to Busbecq, a copy '-^ of which we have, 
through the kindness of a friend, been enabled to pro- 
cure from the archives of Vienna. 

That Busbecq accompanied the four younger Arch- 
dukes to Spain is perhaps doubtful, and still more 
doubtful is the story grafted on to it by later hands, 
namely, that Busbecq pleaded the cause of the Nether- 
lands before Philip II., obtained the recall of Alva and 
the substitution of Requesens in his place. No facts 
could be more interesting if they should but prove to 
be true ; unfortunately they are at present without 
authority. 

BoJisbecque and its Seignenrs. 

It is from the seigneury of Bousbecque that Ogier^ 
Ghiselin takes the name by which he is best known, 
Busbecq (Latin, Busbequius). 

^ See letter to Boisschot, appended to the Elzevir edition of Busbecq's 
letters from France. 

''■ See Appendix, Patent of ktiighthood. 

^ Ogier is the name of an old Norse hero, who figures prominently in 
the Carlovingian epic cycle. Jean Molinet says of some Burgundian 



10 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

Properly of course his name is identical with that of 
the seigneury, but, by common consent, the Ambassador 
is known as Busbecq, while the name of the place, 
after numerous variations — Bosbeke, Busbeke, Bous- 
beke, &c., has settled down into the form Bousbecque/ 

It will be necessary therefore to speak of the man 
by one name and the place by another. 

The geographical position of Bousbecque has an 
important bearing on the biography of the Ambassador ; 
as the place is not marked in English maps, a plan of 
the district is given in this volume showing the relative 
positions of Bousbecque, Comines, Wervicq, Halluin, 
&c. It will be seen that Bousbecque lies on the river 
Lys, about two miles from Comines. In the times 
with which we shall have to deal, it formed part of the 
County of Flanders ; it is now part of the French fron- 
tier, and is included in the Departement du Nord. 

The neighbourhood of Bousbecque has a history 
extending to early times, for close to it stands Wervicq, 
marking with its name the Roman station of Viro- 
viacum ; in Bousbecque itself Roman paving-stones 
have been dug out on the road now known as the 
' Chemin des Oblaers ; ' whence it may be assumed that 
the road mentioned in the itinerary of Antoninus, as 
running from Tournay to Wervicq, passed through 
Bousbecque. 

The depth of the river Lys, which is an affluent of 
the Scheldt, exposed the neighbouring country to the 
attacks of the Northmen ; the hardy pirates sailed up 
the stream, and built their castles and forts on the 



archers, who displayed great courage at a critical moment, ' Et n'y avoit 
celui d'entre eux qui ne montrast mine d'estre ung petit Ogier.' (Molinet, 
chap. XXX.) It was Latinised into Augerius, hence some write Auger. 

1 Bousbecque takes its name from a tributary of the Lys, which is still 
called Becque des bois. 



BOUSjBECQUE and its seigneurs. II 

banks of the river. Their descendants became the 
seigneurs, or lords, of the territories which their ances- 
tors had won. 

A distinction must here be drawn between the 
seigneury of Bousbecque and the parish (now com- 
mune) of Bousbecque. The parish of Bousbecque 
contained a great many other seigneuries besides that 
from which it takes its name ; notably, for instance, the 
seigneuries of la Lys and Rhume. The first mention 
of Bousbecque occurs in a deed, without date, but ne- 
cessarily between 1098 and 1113 ; in it Baudry, bishop 
of Tournay, conveys to the Collegiate Chapter of St. 
Peter, at Lille, the whole tithes of Roncq and half the 
tithes of Halluin and Bousbecque (Busbeka).^ 

In 1 1 59, Wautier, Seigneur of Halluin, husband of 
Barbe daughter of the Count of Soissons, conveys to 
the Abbey of St. Aubert, with the consent of his wife 
and his children — Wautier, Roger, Guillaume, Alix, and 
Richilde — his share of the tithes of Iwuy. The Roger 
here mentioned, married Agnes de Bousbecque ; hence 
we see the high position held at that early date by the 
family of Busbecq ; ^ a daughter of their house was 
considered a proper partner for a nobleman of royal 
family, the grandson of a Comte de Soissons. 

Adjoining the seigneury of Bousbecque lay the 
seigneury of la Lys, and in 1298 both these seigneuries 
are found in the possession of the same person, men- 

^ For this and other documents quoted in this section see Monsieur 
Dalle's Histoire de Bousbecque. 

^ Some few traces, showing the high position of the early Seigneurs, 
are still to be found in Bousbecque ; among these is the beautiful cross, of 
which we have been enabled by the kindness of Monsieur Dalle to give 
a representation in the frontispiece of the Second Volume. Monsieur 
Dalle considers it to be ' la croix d'autel mobile qui etait sans pied et 
sans hampe, qui Ton portait de la sacristie a I'autel au moment du saint 
sacrifice, et qui se plagait sur un pied prepare d'avance.' — Histoire de 
Bousbecque, chap, xxxviii. 



12 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

tion being made in the archives of Lille of ' William 
de la Lys, sire de Bousbeke, fius Monseigneur William 
de la Lys, ki fu sire de Bousbeke.' 

Thus for a time the title by which the family was 
known was not Bousbecque, but la Lys. 

In December 1348, was signed the Treaty of Dun- 
kirk, by the Earl of Lancaster, the Earl of Suffolk, and 
Sir Walter Manny on the part of England, and on the 
part of Flanders, by ten delegates of rank ; among their 
names is found that of Jehan de la Lys. 

About this time the seigneuries of la Lys and Bous- 
becque passed to the house of Pontenerie; William of 
that name marrying Marie de la Lys, heiress of the 
seigneuries, and assuming — no doubt as one of the 
conditions of the contract — the name of la Lys. His 
children were severally known as, Guillaume, Jeanne, 
and Marie de la Pontenerie, dit de la Lys. 

Again there was a failure in the male line, and 
Marie, the youngest daughter, brought the seigneuries 
to Bauduin de Hingettes. 

Their son, Jehan de Hingettes, married a Halluin, 
and dying in 1466, his daughter Adrienne de Hingettes, 
dit de la Lys, became representative and heiress of the 
family. She married Gilles Ghiselin L, and thus the 
seigneuries of la Lys and Bousbecque passed into the 
possession of the noble house of Ghiselin.^ 

On the marriage of Adrienne to Gilles Ghiselin L 
the title of la Lys was dropped, and that of Bous- 
becque resumed. 

Gilles Ghiselin L, Seigneur of Bousbecque, knight 
of Jerusalem and Cyprus, was a man of considerable 

' For the pedigree of the Ghiselins see Monsieur Dalle's Histoire de 
Bousbecque, chap. iv. In consequence of there being several seigneurs of 
the same name it will be necessary to speak of them as Gilles Ghiselin 
I., &c. 



GEORGE GHISELTN L 13 



importance, and from the following notice it would 
appear that he was a man of high character. In 1474 
there was a dispute between the dean and chapter of 
Messines ^ on the one side, and the abbess, convent, and 
church on the other. It appears that the bailiffs of 
the abbess had arrested a man in a house belonging 
to the dean and chapter. The chapter resented this 
intrusion on their rights, and the case was submitted to 
two men for arbitration, Gilles Ghiselin I. and Guil- 
laume Wyts. 

George Ghiselin I., great uncle of the Ambassador. 

Gilles Ghiselin I., died in 1476, leaving six children 
by his wife Adrienne ; two of whom, George and Gilles, 
were destined to occupy a prominent part in the history 
of their time. 

George, the elder, succeeded to the seigneury of 
Bousbecque ; his grandmother was a Halluin, and he 
also was married to a member of the same house. 

It is not improbable that he owed his promotion to 
a high place in the Burgundian Court to the influence 
of Jeanne de la Clite, dame de Comines, the wife of 
Jean Halluin, Seigneur of Halluin, and the head of 
that important family. 

At any rate this lady had an influence at the Court 
of Burgundy which it is impossible to overestimate, and 
we find her husband's relations,^ the Ghiselins of 

' Marie, daughter of Gilles Ghiselin I., became Abbess of Messines. 
The following is an extract from L. Guicciardini's Description de tout lePah 
Bas, Antwerp, 1567. ' Messine ha une tres-bonne et tres-ample Abbaye 
de femmes, de laquelle I'Abbesse est Dame du lieu, et de sa jurisdiction, 
tant au temporal qu'au spirituel.' 

2 Jeanne de la Clite was married to Jean Halluin (Halewin), Seigneur 
of Halluin, the relation and near neighbour of the Busbecqs of Bous- 
becque. The families had been connected from a very early date by the 



14 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



Bousbecque, occupying high positions in the ducal 
household. 

In June 1478, Mary of Burgundy, daughter and 
heiress of Charles the Bold, was married to the Arch- 
duke Maximilian, afterwards Emperor ; George Ghi- 
selin was appointed one of his chamberlains, and a 
iTiember of his council. 

On August 7, 1479, there was a great battle at 
Guinegatte, between Maximilian and the French. The 
latter were at first successful, their men at-arms de- 
feated Maximilian's horse, and chased them off the 
field, while the free-archers began plundering the bag- 
gage, and murdering the non-combatants. But the 
battle had yet to be decided. Maximilian's army did 
not consist solely of horse, for there were two divisions 
of Flemish pikemen on foot. To the surprise of 
Philippe de Comines, who gives an account of the battle, 
the Flemish infantry were not shaken by the defeat of 
the cavalry ; the firm front which they showed was 
probably owing to a custom which the Burgundians 
had adopted from their English Allies. Their officers, 
who in this instance consisted of two hundred of their 
own nobles and gentlemen, y^?/^//^ on foot These two 
divisions were severally commanded by the Count of 

marriage of Roger Halluin to Agnes de Bousbecque ; it will be noticed 
that the grandmother of George and Gilles Ghiselin was also a Halluin ; 
moreover in consequence of this alliance the Busbecqs quartered the 
Halluin arms. We should have been afraid, however, to state positively 
that a relationship existed between them and Jean Halluin, husband of 
Jeanne de la Clite, had not Monsieur Leuridan, who is the chief authority 
on genealogies in the North of France, most kindly investigated the 
question for us. The result of his researches has placed the matter 
beyond doubt ; Jean Halluin and George and Gilles Ghiselin had a com- 
mon ancestor in Jacques Halluin, Seigneur of Halluin in the fourteenth 
century. As far as mere cousinship is concerned they were but distant 
relations, still it is easy to understand that two seigneurs, in the fifteenth 
century, living within two miles of each other, would value and appreciate 
any blood relationship however slight. 



BATTLE OF GUINEGATTE. rs 

Nassau and the Count of Romont. As soon as a 
French force could be collected, it was brought up to 
crush the Flemings ; the Count of Nassau's command 
was hard pressed, and in spite of a gallant resistance, 
Maximilian's guns were taken, and turned on the Bur- 
gundians. At this critical moment, the Count of Ro- 
mont charged with his division, retook the guns, and 
sweeping on, captured the whole of the French artil- 
lery, thirty-seven pieces, with their camp and commis- 
sariat stores. This battle is generally spoken of as an 
indecisive one, because Maximilian retired instead of 
following up his success. His strategy may have been 
bad, but, as to the great victory he gained, there can 
be no doubt. On the Burgundian side, we have the 
account of Molinet, who tells us that the French lost 
ten thousand men, thirty-seven guns, and their camp 
with all its stores. On the French side, we have the 
account of Philippe de Comines, who endeavours to 
represent it as a drawn battle ; but he does not dis- 
guise the effect which the news of. this defeat had on 
his master, Louis XI. He was with him when the 
tidings came, and from that very hour, he tells us, the 
French king determined to make peace with Maximilian. 
It was onthefieldof Guinegatte^ that George Ghiselin, 

' For this battle see Philippe de Comines, book vi. chap. 5, and 
Molinet, chap. Ixvi. Jean Molinet was chronicler to the Court of Bur- 
gundy from 1474 to 1506. He is a most painstaking writer, and of great 
value on account of the graphic details to be found in his narratives. 
Unfortunately for his reputation as an annalist, he here and there inserts 
chapters of pedantic nonsense, in which frequent references are made to 
the saints of the calendar and the heroes of mythology. But it is only 
fair to observe that the quantity of wheat to be found is greatly in excess 
of the chaff, and that he keeps his wheat and chaff separate and distinct. 
In his historical chapters he never indulges in these vagaries. Possibly 
the court fashion required him to write such pieces, for Molinet was by 
no means bhnd to the faults and errors of his patrons, and could also 
see the humorous side of their misfortunes. The following description 



i6 LIFE OF BUSBECQ, 

Seigneur of Bousbecque, in company with nine other 
gentlemen, received knighthood at the hand of Maxi- 
mihan. It seems certain that he was fighting on foot, 
with his retainers, in the ranks of the Flemish pikemen. 

The scene now changfes from the battle-field to the 
scaffold. The Flemings, as represented by their four 
members — Ghent, Bruges, Ypres, and the belt of vil- 
lages known as the Francq — were anxious for peace 
with France. They had also serious grievances against 
Maximilian (now King of the Romans) and his minis- 
ters. They declared that the latter had misappro- 
priated the revenues, and the former been more 
grievous in his exactions than Philippe le Bon or 
Charles the Bold. 

They also objected to having German troops quar- 
tered in the country. 

Early in 1488 the smouldering fires of insurrection 
burst into a flame. Curiously enough, Maximilian's 
treatment of a friend and relation of the Busbecqs 
was the proximate cause of the outbreak. Adrien de 
Vilain,^ Seigneur of Rasenghien, had been one of the 
leaders of the Gantois after the outbreak in 1485. He 
had subsequently retired to Lille, with the approval of 
Maximilian, who had given him a pardon. Here no 
doubt he felt safe in the neighbourhood of the Ghiselins 
of Bousbecque and other friends ; but one day he was 

of Maximilian's imprisonment in Bruges, is to be found in Recollection 
des tnerveilles advcmies en nosire temps, written by Molinet. 
' Les moutons diftenterent 

En son pare le berger, 

Les chiens qui le garderent 

Sont constraint d'eslonger. 

Le berger prist figure 

D'aigneau, mais ses brebis, 

Dont il avait la cure, 

Devindrent loups rabis.' 

1 See Molinet, chap, clxii. 



ARREST AND RELEASE OF ADRIEN VILA IN. 17 



seized by Chariot, de Mennevilie and a party of the 
Count of Nassau's archers, who carried him off, and 
imprisoned him in the castle of Villevorde. His re- 
lations were naturally incensed at this breach of faith, 
and one morning, when the warden of the castle had 
gone to Brussels, Vilain's first cousin, Adrien de Lic- 
kerke, rode into Villevorde with thirteen of his friends ; 
leaving the rest in the town, he proceeded to the castle, 
with three of his companions, and knocked at the gate. 
The porter at first refused to admit them, but by dint 
of entreaties, backed by the offer of a handsome reward, 
his scruples were at last overcome. On entering, they 
asked for Adrien Vilain. The porter replied that he 
was no longer in the castle ; but a glance into the 
court-yard disproved his words, for there was the pri- 
soner drearily pacing up and down in his gown. De 
Lickerke went up to him. ' You have been here lono- 
enough, fair cousin,' quoth he, ' come back with usV 
Vilain's gown (the civilian dress), was quickly ex- 
changed for a soldier's doublet, and a hat placed on his 
head. The porter, seeing their intentions, attempted to 
raise an alarm, but they hustled him against the wall, 
and nearly killed him. Quitting the casde with the 
prisoner they joined their friends in the town, and 
taking horse rode for their lives. Avoiding Brussels, 
they made for Tournai, some seventy miles distant, 
not sparing the spur till they were in a place of safety! 
Whether Maximilian had authorised the seizure of 
Vilain or not, at any rate he was deeply annoyed at his 
escape. De Lickerke was now a marked man ; pro- 
bably he thought that his safety lay in boldness, for he 
put himself at the head of 3,000 Gantois, and one 
wintry night (January 9, 1488) took Courtrai 1 by sur- 

' See Molinet, chap, clxiii. 
VOL, I. C 



1 8 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

prise, making the inhabitants swear allegiance to 
Philippe (Maximilian's infant son) and the Gantois. 

The King of the Romans was at this time at 
Bruges, where the States were assembled to conclude 
a peace with France. The Gantois had committed 
themselves ; it was time for the Brugeois to rise. On 
the last day of January, 1488, the guild of carpenters 
made the first move by seizing two of the gates of 
Bruges,^ those of St. Catherine and Ghent. Maxi- 
milian, with his officers, attendants, and body-guard lay 
at the Palace (Prinssenhof), not far from the centre of 
the town ; with him were Pierre Lauchast, Carondelet 
the Chancellor, George Ghiselin, and other faithful 
followers. 

It is difficult to say whether his best plan would 
have been to remain quiet, or to follow the example of 
Philippe le Bon,^ put himself at the head of his guard, 
and fight his way out of the city. Unfortunately for 
himself and his friends, he took a middle course. On 
February i, between five and six in the morning, he 
marched into the market-place with his household 
troops Leaving the larger portion of them there, he 
proceeded with his personal attendants to the gates of 
Ghent and St. Catherine, where he met with scant 
courtesy from the guard of carpenters. 

Meanwhile the troops in the market-place had been 
standing round a huge bonfire, and it occurred to their 
commanding officer that it would be a good opportunity 
to put them through their drill. He gave the order 
for them to execute a German ^ manoeuvre, ' Faison le 
limechon a la mode d'Allemagne,' and marched them 

' See Molinet, chap, clxiv. 

' See De Barante, Histoire des Dues de Bourgogne, vii. 428. 
2 The Flemings having objected to the introduction of German troops 
into their country this order was most impolitic. 



THE INSURRECTION AT BRUGES. 19 

round the square in fours. Next he gave the order 
for them to bring their pikes to the charge ; there 
was a crowd looking on, and, imagining they were 
about to be attacked, they fled in confusion and dis- 
may. Maximihan, hearing the uproar, returned, and 
led his men back to their quarters. No blood had 
been shed, but the mischief had been done. 

At twelve o'clock the same day the trades of Bruges 
met at their several halls, arms were served out, flags 
were unfurled, and columns of citizens streamed into 
the market-place. There they formed a regular en- 
campment, planting their fifty-two banners, throwing 
up entrenchments, and arming them with cannon. 

The Brusreois were now masters of the situation. 
On February 5, at the request of the Gantois, they 
compelled Maximilian to leave his palace, and lodged 
him in the famous grocer's shop in the market-place, 
known as the Cranenburg. But the king of the 
Romans was not the chief object of their wrath ; it was 
against his ministers that they vowed their direst 
vengeance. A reign of terror commenced ; rewards 
were offered for the apprehension of Pierre Lauchast 
and others connected with the treasury. Maximilian's 
friends and advisers were compelled to seek safety in 
concealment or in flight. 

George Ghiselin had his head tonsured, and as- 
sumed the dress of a mendicant friar of the Au^ustin 
order. In this disguise he attempted to leave the 
city. Unfortunately he was recognised at the gate, 
and arrested. 

Shortly afterwards he was called up for exami- 
nation before the town judges, in company with Jehan 
Van Ninove, and a sergeant named Bontemps. The 
court had not sat for a full hour, when the dean of the 

carpenters brought a detachment of his men to the 

c 2 



LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



door, and threatened to break it open. The judges, 
seeing that resistance was useless, allowed them to 
seize the unfortunate prisoners, whom they straightway 
carried off" to the market-place, and there examined 
after their own fashion. 

The deans of the different trades had enclosed a 
space for the purpose of holding their consultations ; 
m the middle of this enclosure stood a rack, specially 
constructed for torturing victims of different sizes. 
Hard by was a scaffold of unusual size, and there, 
waiting for his prey, stood Maistre Charles, the exe- 
cutioner of Bruges. 

Jehan Van Ninove's turn came first. He was 
frightfully tortured, his legs being actually dislocated. 
Whilst he was being racked, proclamation was made 
that he had agreed with Pierre Lauchast to bring the 
troops of the guard into the town for the purpose of 
mtimidating the citizens of Bruges. Bontemps was 
then tortured, but George Ghiselin was respited. The 
unfortunate prisoners had now no doubt as to what 
their ultimate fate would be, and they all three asked 
to be executed, and forgave those who had compassed 
their death. 

There was one listening on whose ears the words 
fell with no unwelcome sound ; Maistre Charles ' had 
an eye to his fees, and determined that there should 
be no delay on his part. In a trice he was on the 
scaffold, gettmg out his swords and preparing his 
bandages. Then, louder than thunder, swelled the 
shoutmg in the market-place, some demanding their 
immediate execution, and some its postponement. 

"Le bourreau, qui volontiers entendit ces mots pour son gain^ et 
afin que la chose nedemourast \ faire pour faulte de lui, monta soudate 

^T'r^^r"! °" !f ?^"i ^- executions, et en attendant saproie" 
estoit sorti d'espdes et de bandeaux.'-Molinet, chap, clxvii. 



EXECUTION OF GEORGE GHISELIN. 



The latter prevailed. Maistre Charles was disap- 
pointed of his prey, and the unhappy men were sent 
back to prison. 

On February 28, the leading spirits of the insur- 
rection being absent from the town and engaged in an 
attack on Middelbourg, the town judges made a most 
meritorious effort to save the lives of these victims of 
mob law. They called them up for sentence.^ Maistre 
Charles was again in high glee ; his swords and 
bandages were all ready, and his palm itching for the 
fees. He must have been greatly cast down when the 
judges passed a merely nominal sentence on George 
Ghiselin and his companions ; they were to beg pardon 
in their shirts of the deans, make some pilgrimages, 
and distribute certain sums in charity ; the only object 
of the sentence being to satisfy the people. There 
was now a gleam of hope for the unhappy men ; but, 
unfortunately, Middelbourg surrendered the same day, 
and the ringleaders, returning in triumph, were furious 
at this attempt to frustrate their vengeance. They 
seized the unfortunate prisoners, and racked them again 
in the market-place. 

On the next day, February 29, 1488, Maistre 
Charles once more made his preparations, and this 
time he was not disappointed. Bontemps, whose turn 
came last, was pardoned by the mob, now glutted with 
blood, but the rest were all executed, and amongst 
them died that gallant knight, George Ghiselin, Seigneur 
of Bousbecque. 

' Those called up were Jehan van Ninove Wautergrave, Victor hoste 
de la Thoison, Peter d'Arincq at deux autres. Molinet, chap, clxix. A 
comparison of this Ust with the names of those brought out for execu- 
tion will show that the two others (deux autres) were George Ghiselin and 
Bontemps. 



22 



LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



Gilles Ghiselin II., Grandfather of the Ambassador. 

George Ghiselin left ne children, and on his death 
the seigneury of Bousbecque passed to his brother Gilles. 
The latter appears to have entered the public service 
at an earlier period than his elder brother. Gilles won 
his spurs from Charles the Bold, and George from 
Maximilian. 

At home and at court, Gilles Ghiselin II. must 
necessarily have been brought into contact with a 
man of world-wide fame— Philippe de Comines/ the 
father of modern history. Living within two miles 
of each other during their boyhood, and connected by 
marriage, they were both at an early age introduced 
mto the household of Charles the Bold. 

The famous Duke of Burgundy made a point of 
gathering ^ round him and educating his young nobles. 
Philippe de Comines entered his service when he was 
about seventeen years old, and it is not improbable 
that Gilles Ghiselin II. joined his court at the same 
time. It will be necessary here to give some account 
of the posts which the two young men severally filled. 
In the ducal household ^ there were fifty bread-servers, 
fifty cupbearers, fifty carvers, and fifty equerries, each 
of whom in battle was accompanied by a swordbearer, 
and the whole body was commanded by four captains' 
Thus the ofi^cers of Charles the Bold's house were 
formed into an organised band of picked troops. In 
this body Philippe de Comines was enrolled as a cup- 

- Many expressions used by Philippe de Comines, which are supposed 
to be obsolete, are s.mply the id.oms of Comines and its neighbourhood 
where the h.stonan spent the early part of his life, and may still be 
ofihe Lyf " '^"'' ''' "'"""' ""'^ °'^^^ ^'"^g^^ °" the banks 

^ ' Nul prince ne le passa jamais de d<?sirer nourrir grans ^ens et le. 
tenir bien reglez.'- Philippe de Comines, book v. chap 9 '' 

^ See Molinet, chap, i. 



GILLES GHISELIN. 23 



bearer, ' dcuyer ^chanson", and Gilles Ghiselin II. as a 
carver, Umyer trenchant: They were both at a 
later date appointed chamberlains to the duke, and 
members of his council ; they were also both knighted 
by their Sovereign, and not improbably on the same 

occasion. 

Philippe de Comines is supposed to have won his 
spurs on the occasion of the Burgundian and French 
armies entering Liege, an event rendered familiar to 
English readers by the pages of Qtientin Durward. 
Gilles Ghiselin II. may have received the accolade at 
the same time. 

In August 1472, Philippe de Comines deserted his 
master, and threw in his lot with Louis XI. of France. 
Gilles Ghiselin remained constant to the house of 
Burgundy in sunshine and in shade. He accompanied 
his master in his numerous campaigns, and was with 
him at the fatal battle of Nancy.' 

Gilles Ghiselin must have taken part in many a 
victory, but it is only the disastrous defeat that is re- 
corded by his descendant on his tomb. That inscrip- 
tion must have been placed by one who valued loyalty 
above success, and merit above reward. We know 
who caused that inscription to be engraved ; it was his 
grandson, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. 

The death of his master on the fatal field of Nancy, 
January 1477, apparently marks the termination of 
Gilles Ghiselin's military career. Though he did not 
become Seigneur of Bousbecque till after his brother's 
death in 1488, there was probably some family ar- 
rangement by which he resided at the chateau, and 
represented its absent lord. During his service 

1 The reader will remember Scott's description of the battle of Nancy 
in Anne of Geier stein ; the Burgundians were surprised m the night and 
cut to pieces by the Swiss, 



^4 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



under Duke Charles, he must have acquired con- 
siderable wealth, for shortly after his return to Bous- 
becque he built the noble church ^ which still stands as 
a memorial of his munificence. He also rebuilt or 
more probably restored, the seigneur's chateau 'the 
lamily residence of the Busbecqs, and there with his 
wite, Agnes Gommer, he setded down to lead the life 
of a country gentleman. 

_ He was, however, too valuable a man to be left 
without work. In 1480, three years after the batde 
f7'.,^ ^^^ appointed High Bailiff of Ypres 
grand bailly de la ville, salle et chatellenie d'Ypres ' 
1 his important town, which formed one of the four 
members of Flanders, is situated about ten miles north 
of Bousbecqij^. About six miles from either of these 
places lies Messines, of which his sister Marie waS 
lady-abbess. The casdes of Halluin and Comines 
were both in the hands of his relations ; while in the 
important town of Lille, Gilles Ghiselin and his wife 
had a magnificent hotel, whither after her husband's 
death Agnes Gommer retired to end her days It 
will be seen, therefore, that Gilles Ghiselin II., the 
grandfather of the Ambassador, was, at this period of 

office in the household ^of Maximilir l^JZ 
appear that if Gilles Ghiselin II. was a loyal sub't 
he was no less a loyal Fleming, and had litde taste 
for the service of the German Archduke, who had 
been marned by his Sovereign. That this is the true 
reading of his story may be gathered with fai^ pZ 

to be the work of the twelfth ortrrte^nTh^c^rf "f L'^ceTterf "^ 
de le sainte vraie crois et biaucop d=autres dimtes iL, .iT T "'^ ^ 
noble homme Gilles Gisselins : prodsTour iuT' ' ^ ' ' '""' ''"'''''' 



PHILIPPE LE BEAU. 25 

bability from the records of Bousbecque church. It 
was built by Gilles GhiseHn about 1480. In 1485 a 
window was presented to this church, blazoned with 
the arms of Ghent and Rasenghien, by a distant re- 
lation of the family, Adrien Vilain, Seigneur of Rasen- 
ghien, whose story has already been told. Now in 
1485 Adrien Vilain was one of the leaders of the Gan- 
tois in opposing Maximilian. It may fairly be inferred 
that his views met with some sympathy from his friend 
at Bousbecque. To admit such a window into his 
church was not the way to curry favour with Maximi- 
lian. 

With regard to Maximilian's son Philippe le Beau, 
Gilles Ghiselin was in a different position. He was 
the child not only of Maximilian, but also of Mary of 
Burgundy, and the grandson of his old master Charles 
the Bold. Moreover, the early education of Philippe 
had been entrusted to the neighbour, connection, and 
doubtless intimate friend and ally of the Busbecqs, 
Jeanne de la Clite,^ of whom mention has already been 
made. She probably exercised considerable influence 
over the selection of the officers of the young prince's 
household, and it is not surprising to find that Gilles 
Ghiselin II. filled the post oi dctiyer trenchant? 

It is not probable that Philippe le Beau had like 
his grandfather fifty squires to discharge the duties of 
this office. It is more likely that Gilles Ghiselin II. was 
his sole ^cuyer trenchant, though it is possible that he 
may have had one or two coadjutors. 

On attaining his eighteenth year Philippe was 
united to Joanna the second daughter of Ferdinand 
and Isabella of Spain. In its political issues this mar- 
riage was probably the most important event of its 

' For an account of Jeanne de la Clite see page 27. 

^ For an account of the office of ecuyer trenchattt see page 59. 



26 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



kind in the history of the world. Philippe was already 
Sovereign of the Low Countries, as his mother's heir ; 
through his father he was entitled to the reversion of 
the possessions of the house of Hapsburg, and had 
practically a claim on the Imperial title. Joanna, on 
her part, was destined to become by the death of her 
brother and her nephew heiress of Spain, and to trans- 
mit not only Spain itself, but vast empires in the 
western hemisphere to the descendants of this marriage. 
Of Philippe and Joanna were born two sons, Charles 
v., the famous Emperor, and Ferdinand, who was 
born in Spain, and brought up there by his grandfather 
Ferdinand of Aragon, to whom his brother resigned 
Austria, Styria, and the Tyrol, and who succeeded 
eventually to the Imperial title. The last of these two 
princes specially commands our notice, for he it was 
who invited young Ogier Ghiselin into his service, and 
sent him first to England, and afterwards to Constan- 
tinople. 

In November 1501 Philippe and Joanna left the 
Netherlands for a visit to Spain. The Count of Nas- 
sau was entrusted with the government of the country, 
and with the care of their children whom they left be- 
hind them. Their family then consisted of Charles, 
the future Emperor, and his two sisters, Leonora^ and 
Elizabeth.2 Mechlin was appointed as their residence, 
and an establishment was created for them, in which 
the post of premier dacyer trenchant was assigned to 
Gilles Ghiselin, who had been the faithful servant of 
their father and their great grandfather. 

_ • Leonora (as she is called by Busbecq), otherwise Eleanor, was mar- 
ried 15 19, to Emanuel, King of Portugal, and was left a widow with only 
one daughter in 1521. She married Francis I., King of France, in i c J 
lost her second husband, 1547, and died February 1558. 

' Elizabeth, or Isabella, married Christian II. of Denmark in i?ic 
and died 1526. •' ■" 



THE BUSBECQ MONUMENT. 27 

Gilles Ghiselin did not live to see his young master 
and mistresses ascend the thrones, to which they were 
destined ; he died in 1514, full of years and honours. 

The careers of George and Gilles Ghiselin had an 
important bearing on the destinies of Ogier ; his cre- 
dentials to Ferdinand were the eminent services of his 
grandsire and great uncle. 

Possibly the calm courage with which he faced the 
prospect of death and torture at Constantinople, may 
have arisen in some degree from the memory of what 
his ancestors had been. 

In Bousbecque church still stands the monument 
which marks Ogier's regard for the grandsire he never 
saw. 

To this object he devoted what was probably the 
first large sum he was able to save from his salary as 
ambassador. 

It bears the date 1559, and the following inscrip- 
tion : — 

CY GIST MESSIRE GILLES CHEVALIER SEIGNEUR DE EOUSBEKE 
FILZ DE FEU GILLES AUSSY CHEVALIER EN SON TEMPS SR DUDICTE 
BOUSBEKE DU HEULLEHOF ET WASTINES &C EN SON TEMPS ESCUIER 
TRENCHANT A FEU DUO CHARLE DE BOURGOGNE LE SERVIT A LA 
JOURNEE DE NANSY ET DEPUIS AU DICT ESTAT A TRES PUISSANT 
ROY PHILIPPE DE CASTILLE ET PREMIER ESCUIER TRENCHANT A 
MESSEUR LES ENFFANS DU ROY QUAND IL SE PARTIT DES PAYS 
DEMBAS POUR ESPAIGNE LEQUEL TERMINA VIE PAR MORT LE XVIIIE 
JO" DU MOIS D'APVRIL ANNO XVCXIIII ET DAME AGNIES GOMMER SA 
COMPAIGNE EN SON TEMPS DAME DESPLANQUES, ET DE LE PHALESQUES 
LAQUELLE TERMINA VIE PAR MORT LE SECOND JOUR DE JUILLET 
XVCXLI PROES DIEU POUR LEURS AMES. 

yeanne de la Clite and her son George Halhiin. 

Hitherto the family history has been traced, but 
before proceeding further, it will be necessary to de- 
scribe the man to whom the Ambassador must have 
owed more than to anyone else. 



28 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



This was Georg-e Halluin, son of Jeanne de la 
elite, cousin of Philippe de Comines/ and an intimate 
friend of the great Erasmus. Mention has already 
been made of alliances between the Busbecqs and the 
Halluins ; in the map it will be seen that Bousbecque 
lies half way between Halluin and Comines, being 
about two miles distant from either. 

Towards the end of the fourteenth century, Colard 
de la elite I. married Jeanne de Wazieres, Lady of 
Comines, and thus became seigneur of the place. He 
had two sons, (i) Jean de la Clite I.,^ Seigneur of 
Comines, guardian of Philippe de Comines ; (2) Colard 
de la Clite H., dit de Comines, father of Philippe de 
Comines. 

Jean de la Clite I. married Jeanne de Ghistelles, 
and had a son, Jean de la Clite H., who was united to 
Jeanne d'Estouteville. 

The sole child of the pair last mentioned was Jeanne 
de la Chte, who was destined to exercise so important 
an influence on the current of modern history. 

It will be seen therefore that Jeanne de la Clite 

' An interesting document is given by Dupont {Memoires de Philippe 
de Comines, iii. i8o), which connects George Halluin with Philippe de 
Comines. The latter had been the ward of George Halluin's great 
grandfather, but the accounts as regards the administration of his pro- 
perty had never been dosed. This no doubt was owing to Philippe de 
Comine's desertion, and the disturbed state of Flanders, but on July 7 
1519, George Halluin paid over the balance due, after deducting the ex- 
penses of his education, and received an acquittance for the same 

•' These particulars as to the family of Philippe de Comines, Jeanne 
de la Chte, and George Halluin, we owe to the kindness of Monsieur 
Leundan, Archiviste of Roubaix. The accounts hitherto published con- 
tarn manifest errors. For instance, Dupont represents Jeanne de Wa- 
zieres as Dame de Comines et de Halewin, and when the property comes 
to Jeanne de la Clite she is only Dame de Comines, and as such marries 
the Seigneur of Halewin (Halluin). Monsieur Leuridan's account of the 
Seigneurs of Comines will appear shortly in the fourteenth volume of the 
Bulletin de la Cojitmission historique du Nord, under the title of Re- 
cherches snr les Sires de Comines. 



JEANNE DE LA CLITE. 29 

was the granddaughter, and Phihppe de Comines the 
nephew, of Jean de la CHte I., but though the girl be- 
longed to a younger generation, she was older than 
her cousin Philippe, having been born in the Castle 
of Comines in 1440, while the historian was born in 
the same place in 1445. 

Philippe de Comines, being yet a child when his 
father died, was handed over to the care of his uncle ; 
and there is a manifest probability that he and Jeanne 
were brought up together. His name is famous, she 
was one of the most accomplished women of her 
age. As she was so much older, it is probable that 
hers was the predominating influence : what that in- 
fluence was likely to be may be traced in the edu- 
cation she bestowed on her son. 

Charles the Bold, as has been already stated, made 
his court a sort of school for young men of noble 
birth ; it was not likely therefore that he would neg- 
lect the education of his only child. 

He provided for it by appointing Jeanne de la 
elite ■&.% premiere gouvernante to the young princess. 

On three remarkable occasions in the life of Mary 
of Burgundy we meet with Jeanne de la Clite ; (i) 
when tidings came of the disastrous defeat of Nancy, 
and the death of Duke Charles, the Chancellor 
Hugonet asked Jeanne de la Clite ^ to break the news 
to her young mistress before he himself made the 
official announcement ; (2) when it was proposed to 
marry the princess to the Dauphin of France, a sickly 
child of eight, Jeanne de la Clite ^ put her veto on the 
project. Her interference was not altogether approved 
of by the Burgundian Council, but it was decisive ; (3) 
Mary of Burgundy's first-born, Philippe le Beau, was 

' De Barante, Histoire des Dues de Boiirgogne, xi. 196. 
'^ Philippe de Comines, book vi. chap. 2, 



30 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

baptised when six days old. Jean Molinet, the court 
chronicler, thought it necessary to record the order in 
which the great nobles and ladies went to the cere- 
mony : of Jeanne de la Clite ' we read that she stopped 
behind to take care of her young mistress. 

After Mary's accession to the throne, Jeanne de la 
Clite became her premiere dame cT honneur ; her next 
office was gouvernante to Philippe le Beau, who lost 
his mother when he was scarce five years old. She 
saw her young charge grow up, and became dame 
d' honneur to his wife, the unfortunate Joanna of Spain, 
accompanying her in that capacity to Spain in 1501. 

She had been gou.vernante to Mary of Burgundy, 
and in all probability she was present at the birth and 
christening of her grandchildren, Charles and Ferdi- 
nand, but her long connection with the royal family 
was now to terminate. Of her own choice she retired 
to Comines, and spent her last days in ministering to 
the welfare of her people. 

Her important duties had not prevented her form- 
ing domestic ties. Early in life she was married to Jean 
Halluin, or Halewin, Seigneur of Halluin, and chief of 
what may be termed the Halluin clan,^ bringing as her 
marriage portion the important seigneury of Comines. 
Five children were the fruit of this marriage, three 
daughters, Wautier, who died young, and George 
Halluin. 

The last succeeded to the seigneuries of Halluin 
and Comines, and also to the title ^ which had been 

' Molinet, chap. lix. 

^ The Halluins formed a numerous and powerful family, of which the 
Seigneur of Halluin was the head. At the battle of Gavre, 1453, Jean 
Halluin, husband of Jeanne de la Clite, is said to have brought forty-four 
knights on to the field, every one of the blood and every one of the name 
of Halluin. Le Glay, Catalogue descriptif des 7nanuscrits de la Biblio- 
thique de Lille, preface, xviii. 

' Jeanne de la Clite had been created Vicomtesse de Nieuport. 



GEORGE HALLUIN. 31 

bestowed on his mother for her eminent services. 
George Halluin was born in 1470, his father died in 
T473, so that, from his earhest infancy, his mother 
must have had the supreme direction of his education. 
Probably no woman was ever better fitted for the task. 
It is remarkable that Philippe de Comines, who was an 
excellent modern linguist, regretted deeply his igno- 
rance of the ancient languages, when we couple this 
circumstance with the fact that his cousin and playmate, 
Jeanne, gave her son an education which made him one 
of the first Latin scholars of his age. With regard to 
his literary merits, we can produce two unimpeachable 
witnesses ; the one is a man whose name was for cen- 
turies familiar to the schoolboy, Jean Despauteres, the 
writer of Latin grammars, the other is the great 
Erasmus. 

Long before his mother had resigned her influential 
position at the Court, George Halluin had grown to 
man's estate. A brilliant career, accompanied with 
wealth and high honours, seemed the manifest destiny 
of the young Seigneur. He was a gallant knight, 
placed at the head, not only of numerous vassals, but 
also of an important clan. His advice was sought by his 
Sovereign, and his voice in the council chamber was 
listened to with respect.^ 

As a loyal gentleman he was ever ready to give 

^ George Halluin was sent on one occasion as Ambassador extra- 
ordinary to Henry VIII. of England. Like Veltwick (see p. 54) he 
was, it would appear, the joint envoy of the brothers Charles V. and 
Ferdinand. Foppens, in his Bibliotheca Belgica, says he was sent by the 
Emperor. With this statement compare the following extract of a letter 
from Lord Berners to Wolsey dated Calais, June 29, 1524. 'On this 
Wednesday, the 29th, there came to Calais, Mons. de Halwyn from the 
Archduke of Ostrych (Ferdinand) with 20 horse.' Halluin asks Earners 
to inform the Cardinal of his arrival, and intends crossing as soon as he 
can obtain a safe conduct. See Brewer's Letters and Papers of the Reign 
of Henry VIII., vol. iv. part i, p. 191. 



32 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



his country the benefit of his services, but of ambition 
he had none. The campaign over, the crisis past, 
George Halluin sought once more his books and his 
friends. He collected a magnificent library, he sur- 
rounded himself with students, young and old, and be- 
came the guide and oracle of the best scholars of his 
age. He took an interest not only in the pursuits of 
finished scholarship, but also in the best method of 
instructing beginners. He had a theory, which Erasmus 
thought he pushed too far, that grammars and rules 
were a hindrance rather than a help, and that the only 
road to a real knowledge of the Latin language lay 
through the best Latin authors. 

In order to establish his views, he wrote a treatise 
on modern and ancient writers, showing how many 
mistakes arose from the grammars used by the former. 
It is curious that such a man should have been brought 
into so close connection with Despauteres, the great 
writer of grammars. When the latter was school- 
master at St. Winoc, he showed George Halluin his 
treatise on Versification, 'Ars Versificatoria,' ^ which it 
had cost him three years to prepare, feeling confident 
of his approval. George Halluin examined it, and at 
once hit the blot. 

Despauteres had to a great extent followed the 
lines of his predecessors, instead of mastering the 
authors for himself. George Halluin's first question 
was, ' Have you read Silius Italicus ? ' Despauteres 
had not. ' Read him by all means,' said the Seigneur, 
' and you will then see your mistakes.' When Silius 
Italicus was finished, he sent the schoolmaster Lucre- 
tius, Virgil, Manilius, Catullus, Tibullus, Propertius, 
&c., all of which were new to Despauteres, with the 
exception of Virgil. Despauteres read them, and re- 

' Published at Strasburg, 1512. 



ERASMUS. 33 

wrote his book at the cost of three years more labour. 
The preface testifies his gratitude to George Halluin. 
At this time Despauteres was schoolmaster of St. 
Winoc, but not long afterwards he became master of 
the ancient chapter school at Comines/ a post which 
he owed no doubt to the patronage of the Seigneur. 

The following extracts from the letters of Erasmus 
will show what the great leader of the Renaissance 
thought of George Halluin. 

Erasmus to George Halluin, Seigneur of Comines. 

' Dearest George, if I am not very much mistaken, 
I have a clue to the man who quarrels with my book 
on Folly.^ He is a monk, he is a dark man, and his 
stomach is the biggest part of him. At first my book 
was understood by few, till Listrius published notes on 
it ; but when, thanks to your translation, people were 
able to read it in French, fellows understand it who 
cannot construe the Psalms they patter. 

' Louvain, August 29, 15 17.' 

' The following inscription was placed over the tomb of Despauteres 
in the church of Comines : — 

Epitaphium doctissimi viri Johannis Despauterii, 

quondam hujus oppidi ludi-magister. 

Hie jacet unoculus visu prjestantior Argo, 

Flandrica quem Ninove protulit et caruit. 

Obiit 1520. Requiescat in pace. 

The following is a free translation of his epitaph somewhat amplified. 
Underneath this stone doth lie 
The famous master of one eye, 
That eye it served him for a hundred, 
To catch his scholars when they blundered. 
His birthplace is at Ninove seen, 
His fame and glory in Comines. 

^ The famous 'Eyxci^toi' Monplas, dedicated to Sir Thomas More. 
George Halluin published a French translation of the work. 
VOL. I, D 



34 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

Erasmus to Thomas More. 

' In time we shall have scholars, for there is hardly 
a gentleman who is not giving his children a classical 
education, though there is not in the Court circle a 
single well-educated man, with the solitary exception of 
George Halluin. 

' Anderlecht, 1520.' 

Erasmus to George Halluin, Seigneur of Comines. 

' I cannot tell you with what pleasure I received 
your letter. You have not then forgotten your old 
friend Erasmus, and in spite of your rank can conde- 
scend to write to him. 

'You say you are not satisfied with any of the 
Latin grammars or exercise books yet published, or 
with the Latin of modern writers. I am not sure, my 
dear friend, that you would not criticise Cicero himself, 
just as some have accused Virgil of solecisms, and 
Livy of writing dog Latin. 

' For my own part, I approve not of those who 
neglect either their authors for their grammar, or their 
grammar for their authors. The grammar rules should 
be few and sound ; all the rest should be picked up 
from reading the best authors, or in conversation with 
good Latin scholars. ... I should be more inclined 
to agree with you, if an instance could be given of a 
man who had learnt to write Latin without the aid of 
a grammar. I have with me here Ulrich von Hutten,^ 
an exquisite Latin scholar, of gentle birth and good 
breeding. I should recommend you to discuss the sub- 
ject with him. I will come to you the day after 
to-morrow, health permitting, for I am still poorly, 

^ This visit to Erasmus at Louvain is mentioned in Strauss's Life of 
Ulrich von Hutten, English translation, p. 215. 



THE SEIGNEUR OF CO MINES. 35 

otherwise this letter would have been in my own hand- 
writing, instead of being dictated. Most honoured 
Sir, farewell. 

' Louvain, June 21, 1520.' 

An account of George Halluin would be incom- 
plete without a list of his works, which are, (i) A trans- 
lation into French of the 'EyKMjjuov Mwpi'as, written 
by Erasmus, and dedicated to Sir Thomas More. (2) 
A treatise De Restauratioiie Linguce Latiuce. (3) 
On the Coronation of Emperors. (4) A work on 
Music. (5) A treatise against Luther. (6) Notes 
on Virgil. ^ 

This list shows the wide range of his studies, and 
also implies no small amount of literary toil, for George 
Halluin was one who loved to polish and mature his 
work. As Despauteres puts it, ' nothing would satisfy 
him that fell short of perfection.' 

Such was the man who must have exercised the 
greatest influence over Busbecq's earlier years. The 
latter was born in 1522. George Halluin did not die 
till 1536, when Busbecq had left his home for the Uni- 
versity of Louvain. 

As, however, we have no direct record of the con- 
nection between George Halluin and Busbecq, the 
probabilities, which in this case seem to amount to 
certainty, must be set before the reader. { i ) Busbecq 
was born at Comines, and passed his earlier years at 
his father's house, two miles from Comines. (2) 
Though Jean Despauteres was dead, the school at 
Comines under his pupils maintained its high repu- 
tation. (3) George Halluin was a great patron of 
scholars, and had the finest library in Flanders. {4) 

' These notes are still preserved in the library of the cathedral at 
Arras. 

D 2 



36 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



The Busbecq family, as has been already shown, had 
made constant alliances with the Halluins ; moreover, 
not only were they their nearest neighbours, but they 
had also been brought into close relations by the posi- 
tions that George and Gilles Ghiselin and Jeanne de 
la elite had severally occupied in the Burgundian Court. 
(5) Busbecq's father was on intimate terms with 
George Halluin, hawking and feasting with him (see 
infra, page 39). Taking all these points into con- 
sideration, is it probable that Busbecq's father, the 
neighbour, relative, fellow seigneur, and intimate 
friend of George Halluin, would fail to consult him as 
to the education of his scholar son ? Erasmus, it is 
to be remembered, writing of these days, says that all 
the noblemen were anxious to give their sons a good 
education, but that George Halluin was the only mem- 
ber of the Court circle who was himself a scholar. Is 
it likely, therefore, that Busbecq's father, having such 
a man at his door, went elsewhere for advice .? Then 
there is the other side. Busbecq's writings will show 
that he was formed in the mould of George Halluin. 
A Latin scholar of exquisite taste and wide reading, a 
student of many different subjects ; in religion a re- 
former within the pale of the Church, desiring compre- 
hension and objecting to schism ; in short, a follower 
of George Halluin and a follower of Erasmus. At 
the end of Busbecq's fourth Turkish letter will be 
found a distinct reference to the life which George 
Halluin led, as his beau idM of earthly happiness 
His wants are summed up thus— a quiet home, a good 
garden, a few friends, and plenty of books. This was 
the lot which George Halluin deliberately chose : this 
the life which Busbecq would fain have led. 

The following epitaph was engraved on Georp-e 
Halluin's tomb ; — ^ 



GEORGE GHISELIN II. 37 

Munera qui sprevit aulse fumosa superbse 
Pro dulci Aonidum ludo et sudore Minervas, 
Nee tamen abstinuit regum, si quaiido vocatus, 
Conciliis, gravibus consultans publica dictis, 
Nee patriae duros sudanti Marte labores 
Defuit, et neutram eontempsit tempore laudem. 
Qui, quos antiqua populos ditione tenebat, 
Legibus instituit, fuerant ut tempora, Sanctis. 
Comminii genetrix, Halewini eui pater arcem 
Jure dedit prisca majorum laude regendam, 
Ejus habes clauses eineres hoe marmore, mentem 
Pronus ei precibus commenda, siste viator, 
Sternum eineres facial qui vivere rursus. 

Of which the following is a free translation. 

He left ambition's phantom-chase, 
The glare of Court, the greed of place, 

For joys that letters yield ; 
But yet should Halluin's sovereign call, 
He gave good counsel in the hall, 
And struck a blow amongst them all 

For country on the field. 
At once the scholar and the knight, 
He taught his people what was right — 

At least the best he knew. 
The Seigneur he of old Comines, 
And on his scutcheon might be seen 

The arms of Halluin too. 
On either side of hneage high, 
He ruled each ancient seigneury, 

The head of Halluin's clan. 
Then, traveller, pause awhile, and pray 
To Him who can revive this clay 
Mid realms of everlasting day. 

There's One alone who can. 

George Ghiselin II., father of the Ambassador. 

Gilles Ghiselin II. had four children, (i) Gilles 
Ghiselin III., who died childless; {2) Marie Ghiselin, 
who appears to have accompanied her widowed mother 
to Lille, and after her death to have occupied the family 
mansion. It was with her, in all probability, that Bus- 
becq was staying when he received the summons to 
Vienna (see page 75) ; (3) Barbe Ghiselin, married 



3 8 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



to Frangois de Hocron, governor of Bethune ; (4) 
George Ghiselin II., Knight, Seigneur of Bousbecque. 
The hves of George Ghisehn I. and his brother 
Gilles introduce us to the scenes of public life, the 
Court, the battle-field, and the scaffold. George Hal- 
luin has given us a glimpse of the library and the stu- 
dent. From the story of George Ghiselin II. may be 
gleaned not less valuable knowledge of a seigneur's 
life whilst living amongst his people. It is not impos- 
sible that the influence of his friend, relative, and near 
neighbour, the student Seigneur of Comines, may have 
induced George Ghisehn to prefer home duties and 
home pleasures to the perilous honours of a public 
career. At any rate, the life of Busbecq's father is the 
life of a country gentleman, interested in the welfare 
of those around him, and joining in the recreations and 
festivities of his neighbours. 

Comines had long been celebrated for its cloth, 
and George Ghiselin II. endeavoured to establish the 
manufacture in his own seigneury. Nearly two hun- 
dred years before, 1352, the inhabitants of Bousbecque 
had been given a charter, entitling them to manufac- 
ture cloth. Their right appears to have lapsed, for on 
June 7, 1531, -George Ghiselin 11.^ obtained from 
Charles V. a renewal of the privilege. It does not 
appear, however, that his vassals reaped much advan- 
tage from this right. About this time the trade of 
Comines began to decline, and under these circum- 
stances it is not surprising to find that the attempt to 
revive the industry in Bousbecque proved a failure. 
It is interesting, however, to notice the source from 
which the Ambassador acquired his knowledge of the 
mysteries of the craft.^ 

A curious document has been discovered among 

' See Monsieur Dalle, Histoire de Bousbecque, chap. vi. = See page 141 



GEORGE HALLUIN'S PARTY. 39 



the archives of Lille, which furnishes us with a striking 
picture of the sort of life led by George Ghiselin II. 
and his brother seigneurs. It will be found in the 
Appendix, under the head of Pardon of Darnel de 
Croix. From this interesting record it appears that 
on a certain day in the summer of 15 19, George Hal- 
luin. Seigneur of Comines, had a meeting in the broad 
meadows beneath the castle, for the knightly sport of 
hawking. Thither came George Ghiselin, the father of 
the Ambassador, from his chateau at Bousbecque, bring- 
ing with him the Seigneur of Wambrechies, Daniel de 
Croix, a relative of his wife's, and thither rode other 
gendemen of the country, Jacques de le Sauch and the 
Seigneur of Croiselle ; while Comines was represented 
■ by its bailiff, Jehan Homme, and several other towns- 
men who had fought against the French under the 
banner of the Halluins. 

The noble seigneurs and the worthy clothiers passed 
a merry day with hawk and hound ; they had their 
sport in the field, and they feasted in the castle. Their 
host was one whom they all respected, a gallant knight, 
a safe adviser, a prince of scholars, one who could hold 
his own in the field or in the council-chamber, and yet 
preferred his library at Comines, and a chat with Eras- 
mus, to the honours of a Court and the condescensions 
of an Emperor. 

Between eight and nine in the evening, the festivi- 
ties drew to a close. George Halluin and the Seigneur 
of Croiselle, according to the official account, retired to 
bed. It is pardonable to imagine that the former may 
have sought his library, to add another note to his 
Virgil, to have a chat about Latin grammars with Jean 
Despauteres, or to indite a letter to Erasmus in the 
most faultless of Latin. 

Meanwhile, George Ghiselin, in company with 



4° LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



Jehan Homme, bailiff of Comines, Jacques de le Sauch, 
and Daniel de Croix, strolled towards the market- 
place of the town. It happened to be a fete-day, so 
there was a general holiday and merry-making. To 
this fete had come a minstrel named Chariot Desru- 
maulx. Perhaps he may have helped to entertain the 
gentlemen at the castle, at any rate he attached himself 
to the party of seigneurs as they went towards the 
market-place. Possibly in Provence he would have 
been allowed to associate with men of rank, but the 
Flemish seigneurs evidendy thought that the man was 
taking a liberty. On the road one of them suggested 
that they should adjourn to the inn of Master Francis 
Barbier, on the Place de Comines, and there prolong 
their festivities. The proposal met with general ap- ' 
proval. Daniel de Croix and Jacques de le Sauch went 
on m front, while the Seigneur of Bousbecque and the 
bailiff followed at some little distance. When the two 
gentlemen first mentioned came to the inn. Chariot 
Desrumaulx insisted on entering with them. De Croix, 
who still had his hawk upon his wrist, i remonstrated 
with him, and told him in plain terms that he was too 
drunk and quarrelsome for them to wish for his com- 
pany. The minstrel persisted in entering, whereupon 
de Croix took him by the collar, and, with the assist- 
ance of de le Sauch, expelled him from the house. 
Desrumaulx grew violent, and attempted to draw his 
sword, but his hand was stopped by de le Sauch be- 
fore he could disengage his weapon. At this moment 
up came Jehan Homme, bailiff of Comines, and George 
Ghiselin. The former immediately executed his office 

' The object of this statement is to show that Daniel de Croix had 
no intention of attacking Desrumaulx. The account is evidently drawn 
up so as to represent the young Seigneur's case in the most favourable 
light possible. uidjie 



THE MINSTRELS DEATH. 41 

by arresting Desrumaulx, and was on the point of con- 
signing him to the gaol, when the bystanders good- 
naturedly interfered. They made what excuses they 
could for the man ; ' he was drunk and saucy now, but 
if he were allowed to sleep it off, he would come to his 
senses in the morning.' Desrumaulx promised to go 
to bed quietly, and on this understanding he was re- 
leased. On regaining his liberty, however, instead of 
going off to his lodgings, he stationed himself at the 
entrance to the Place, laid down his violin, took off his 
coat, and in loud insulting language challenged the 
best of the seigneurs to single combat. Young Daniel 
de Croix, no doubt with good reason, considered the 
challenge as specially addressed to himself. Accord- 
ing to his ideas, his reputation as a gentleman and a 
soldier was at stake ; if he permitted a base-born min- 
strel publicly to insult him, he could never hold up his 
head again among his comrades at arms. Assuming, 
probably, that with his superior skill he would have no 
difficulty in disarming his tipsy antagonist, he threw 
his hawk to his man-servant, and sallied out into the 
market-place. Desrumaulx, on seeing him, repeated 
his insults, and drawing his sword advanced to meet 
him. Hereon de Croix, unsheathing his rapier, ex- 
changed some passes with the minstrel ; the latter's 
skill proved greater than the young Seigneur had anti- 
cipated, and he succeeded in hitting his antagonist's 
shoulder. De Croix, smarting under the blow, made 
a lunge at the minstrel, and ran him through the body ; 
his rapier entered a little below the right breast, in- 
flicting a wound that was almost immediately fatal. 
De Croix was now in a very serious position, for not 
only was the man dead, but he had died before he 
could be confessed and shriven, consequently the young 



42 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



Seigneur had to answer for the perdition ^ of his soul, 
as well as the destruction of his body ! We are left to 
imagine the hurried council held in the market-place 
by the seigneurs ; how the swiftest horse was saddled, 
and de Croix rode forth into the night to escape for 
his life. The French frontier was not far distant, and 
there probably he took refuge. When the time came 
for trial at Lille, de Croix did not appear, being afraid 
that the justice of the court would not be tempered 
with mercy. Application was made to Charles V. for 
a pardon ; the petition was no doubt backed up by the 
influence of the Halluins, Ghiselins, and other noble 
houses connected with the family of de Croix. At 
any rate it was successful ; and de Croix received a 
free pardon, on condition of his paying all legal ex- 
penses, and compensating the family of the man he 
had killed. 

The scene preserved in this curious document fur- 
nishes a picture of a seigneur's life in the country, and 
conveys some idea of the tone of the society from 
which Busbecq went forth to sketch the manners and 
customs of the East. 

George Ghiselin II. died in 1561, leaving three 
legitimate children, (i) Jean Ghiselin, Seigneur of Bous- 
becque, whose name ^ is found amongst the signatures 
appended to a remonstrance addressed by the Estates 
of Lille to Margaret of Parma, against the decrees she 
had issued for enforcing the edicts of Charles V. for 

' De Lickerke, after the capture of Courtrai (see page 17) slew the 
Seigneur of Heulle, who had seized the castle while the former was en- 
gaged m superintending an execution. Jean Molinet is greatly moved at 
the thought of his dying before he could be confessed. ' Lui feru d'une 
espde trois cops en la teste, tellement qu'il morut illec sans confession 
qui fut chose piteuse et lamentable.'— Molinet, chap, clxiii. ' 

^ This was not the first time that a Ghiselin of Bousbecque had 
ventured to differ with his Count. See page 25. 



OGIERS MOTHER. 4J 

the suppression of heresy. He died childless, Novem- 
ber 1578 ; (2), Marguerite Jacqueline Ghiselin, married 
November 28, 1565, to Jean Baptiste de Thiennes, 
Seigneur of Willersies ; she died March 27, 161 1. (3), 
Agnes Ghiselin, who succeeded her brother Jean in 
the seigneury of Bousbecque. She married Jacques 
Yedeghem, Seigneur of Wieze, captain, governor, and 
high bailiff of Termonde (Dendermonde). 

These last had a son, Charles de Yedeghem, who 
became Seigneur of Bousbecque ; from him, his uncle, 
the Ambassador, on December 18, 1587, bought a life- 
interest in the seigneury.' 

Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. 

Besides the children born in lawful wedlock, George 
Ghiselin II. had, by Catherine Hespiel,'-^ an illegitimate 
son, who is the subject of this memoir, Ogier Ghiselin 
de Busbecq. The mother was an unmarried woman, 
in a humble position of life, and is supposed to have 
been a servant at the Bousbecque chateau. If this was 
the case, there is nothing surprising in the fact that 
she was at Comines when her son was born, in 1522 ; 
for it is hardly likely that her mistress would allow her 
to remain an inmate of the Seigneur's house. In jus- 
tice to George Ghiselin himself, it must be remembered 
that the standard of morality in Flanders, with regard 
to such connections, was not high, as is shown by 
Motley's ^ description of a seigneur's privileges in old 
times ; and also by the fact that up to a late date they 

1 A copy of the deed is given in the Appendix. 

^ The monuments in Bousbecque Church show that after Busbecq's 
death the Hespiels were in fairly good circumstances ; one of them was 
burgomaster of the village. From this Monsieur Dalle concludes that 
Busbecq was not forgetful of his mother's izxmXy.—Histoire de Bousbecque, 
chap, xxvii. 

2 See Motley's Rise of the Dutch Republic, i. 6. 



44 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



retained the right of legitimating their bastard chil- 
dren. At any rate, his conduct as a father was unim- 
peachable ; he received the httle fellow into his chateau, 
and gave him an excellent education. 

From considerations already stated, it is impossible 
to doubt that Busbecq came under the influence of 
George Halluin. He must often have been found in 
the famous library ^ of the Seigneur of Comines, with 
his head buried in some weighty folio; thither, no 
doubt, he brought the botanical specimens he had dis- 
covered in the woods and fields of Bousbecque, and 
the Roman coins he had unearthed at Wervicq. From 
his kind patron he must have heard of the great Eras- 
mus, of Melancthon, Thomas More, and other leaders 
of that age. One can picture to oneself how Ogier 
may have questioned him as to Luther, and asked how 
It was that he and Erasmus were so far apart, when 
they agreed so heartily in detesting the greed and 
superstition of the monks. ' My boy,' ^ one can imagine 
George Halluin saying, ' when your grandsire, ctlles 
Ghisehn, was about to restore the Bousbecque chateau 
he took me to see the old place. The great hall was 
well-nigh perfect, and all the windows had been closed 
with boards. On entering, we found it had been made 
a home for the owl and the bat ; the creatures flew up 
agamst me ; and as I tried to escape, I stumbled over 

' ' Guere loing de Messine sur la Lisse est le village de Commines 
avec un bon chasteau, ou y ha une tres-belle et tres-noble librairie' 
rassemblee par George, Seigneur de Hallewin et de Commines <^entil- 
homme tres-docte, lequel entre ses autres ceuvres plus dignes et louables 
entretenoit et carressoit continuellement gens doctes et vertueux '— L 
Guicciardmi, Description de tout le Pais bas, page 311. 

^ An attempt is here made to give the views of Erasmus as thev 
would present themselves to such a mind as George Halluin's The ideas 
are m a great measure adopted from Nisard's Renaissance et Rdfonne to 
which a httle local colouring has been added, and are offered as an ex 
planation of Busbecq's neutrality with regard to the religious differences 
winch sent his countrymen into opposite camps. ' 



LUTHER AND ERASMUS. 45 

the rubbish, and fell on the floor, which was covered 
with filth. I was so disgusted that I would fain have 
persuaded your grandfather to leave the old place to 
its present occupants, and build a fair castle at some 
little distance ; but he laughed at my boyish fancy, say- 
ing it were foul scorn that he should be ousted from 
the roof of his ancestors by a set of night-birds. He 
called in his men, the windows were unbarred, and 
broad streams of light poured into the hall. Then 
might you have seen owl and bat shrinking from the 
bright sunbeams ; thenceforth the Bousbecque hall was 
no resting-place for them, for they love not to roost 
save where there is perpetual darkness and night.^ 
Here is my parable, Ogier ; Luther would quit our 
Church because of the many corruptions and abuses 
that have crept in ; he would leave the monks to their 
darkness, and build himself a brand-new chapel after 
his own design. Erasmus would count it shame to 
allow such night-birds to deprive him of his inheritance 
in the Church. He would do what your grandsire did, 
open the windows and pour in the light ; that is a 
power against which neither monks nor bats can stand.' 
'But where is the light,' says Ogier, 'and where are 
the windows .-* ' ' There,' replies the Seigneur, pointing 
to his well-stored shelves, ' there is the light of anti- 
quity, which will chase the night-birds from our Church. 
Never think, Ogier, that the Bible is the only revela- 
tion of God ; all knowledge comes from him. Seneca, 
who never read a word of the Bible, can help us to the 
truth ; and if it be the truth, it is God's truth, as much 

' ' Le moine est inquiet, furieux, au milieu de cette universelle renais- 
sance des lettres et des arts ; il baisse sa lourde paupifere devant la lumi^re 
de I'antiquitd resuscitee, comme un oiseau de nuit devant le jour.' — 
Nisard, Renaissance et R^fornie, i. 55. ' Le g^nie de I'antiquit^ chassant 
devant lui les ^paisses tdnfebres de I'ignorance.' — Renaissance et Reforme, 
i. 66. 



46 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



as if it had been uttered by inspired lips. I will tell 
you a secret, boy ; you remember the old line, "Fas est 
et ab hoste doceri." The drones in the monasteries 
have, like other animals, that intuitive knowledge which 
tells them what is fatal to their existence ; so we may 
learn from them their vulnerable part. Erasmus has 
said many hard things of them, but that is not the 
chief reason of their hate. What is it then ? li is 
because he has sent the world to school with Gi'eece and 
Rome for its masters} Just as the owls and bats in 
your grandsire's hall might have held their own had 
we attacked them with sticks and stones, but shrank 
discomfited before the light of day, so the monks might 
battle against downright attacks, but they know that 
the light of antiquity must drive them from their roosts. 
My ancestors have left their mark on the history of 
Flanders ; but I doubt whether they ever discharged a 
more glorious office than that which fell to me when I 
undertook the translation of the great satire which 
Erasmus 2 dedicated to Sir Thomas More. I once 



1 < ■ 



' Mais ce qui rendit surtout Erasme odieux aux moines ce fut son 
role litte'raire, si brillant et si actif. Chose singulifere, il excita peut-etre 
plus de haines par ses paisibles travaux sur I'antiquite profane, que par 
ses critiques des mceurs et des institutions monacales, ses railleries contre 
I'dtalage du culte extdrieur, ses insinuations semi-hdre'tiques contre 
quelques dogmes consacrds meme par les chrdtiens d'une foi ^clairee. 
A quoi cela tient-il ? Est- ce que la science fait plus peur k I'ignorance 
que le doute k la foi ? Est-ce que la foi des moines, exterieure, disci- 
plinaire, pour ainsi dire, mais nullement profonde, ^tait plus toldran'te que 
leur ignorance .' Enfin, y avait-il moins de p€ril pour eux dans le 
tumulte des dissensions religieuses, que dans I'e'clatante lumi^re re'pandue 
par les lettres sur le monde moderne, rentre dans la grande voie de la 
tradition ? ' — Renaissance et R^forme, i. 63-4. 

^ Erasmus was by nature extremely timid, ' animo pusillo,' as he de- 
scribes himself to Colet (Ep. xli.). When writing to George Halluin he 
seems delighted at his having translated the 'Eyxco/jiov Uaplas, but he was 
by no means willing to stand the odium which arose on the publication 
of his satire in French. He shifts the responsibihty entirely on to his 
friend. No doubt he thought that the shoulders of the Seigneur of 



BUSBECQS EDUCATION. 4f 

spoke of it to my friend. He shook his head. " You 
have brought me, my dearest George, into some trouble 
with your translation ; it is too good ; it seems incre- 
dible, but the lazy crew positively understand it. No, 
no, stick to your Virgil ; they cannot attack me about 
it ; and, between ourselves, you will frighten them 
much more." As he said to me, so I say to you, my 
dear young friend, leave religious questions alone ; 
they will right themselves, if we only let in the light. 

' And why should not you help in this work, Ogier ? 
There are manuscripts yet to be discovered, there are 
inscriptions yet to be copied, there are coins of which 
no specimen has been garnered. Then there is the 
great field of Nature before you ; plants with rare vir- 
tues for healing sicknesses, fruits that are good for 
food, flowers with sweet scents and various hues. Why, 
again, should you not utilise the taste you have for 
observing the habits of the animal world ? Depend 
upon it, these studies are intended by God for the im- 
provement and advancement of the human race. Let 
monk and sectary fight it out as they will ; do you be 
content to let in the light, and leave the rest to God.' 

Such was the influence that presided over Comines 
during Busbecq's earlier years ; for the ideas of George 
Halluin were the ideas of Erasmus. We may be quite 
certain also that, under the same guide, Busbecq was 
not allowed to damp his ardour and stupefy his brains 
with too copious doses of Latin grammar, before he 
was made free of his Livy and his Virgil. As much as 
possible of the works of the ancients, and as little as 

Comines were broader than his own. (See Ep. cclxxxiv. to Abbot Antony 
de Berges.) ' Post hsc accepi a nonnulhs, quod me vehementer com- 
movit, te mihi nescio quid subirasci, opinor ob Moriam, quam vir 
clarissimus Georgius Haloinus, me dehortante ac deterrente, fecit Galli- 
cam, hoc est, ex mea suam fecit, additis detractis et mutatis quee voluit.' 
December 13, 15 17. 



48 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



possible of the cut and dried rules of the moderns — 
such would be George Halluin's advice. If any one 
be curious as to the result of such a system, they have 
but to look at Busbecq's Latin for the answer. 

At the age of thirteen Busbecq became a student 
at Lou vain, the celebrated University of Brabant, 
where Erasmus once taught. Here he spent five years, 
at the end of which he received a reward, which must 
have been more precious to him than any of his Uni- 
versity laurels. In consideration of his merits as a 
student, and other good qualities, Charles V. issued a 
Patent,^ removing the stain from his birth, and admit- 
ting him into the noble family of Busbecq. 

According to the fashion of the times, the young 
man's education was not completed at Louvain. He 
went the round of the great Universities of Europe, 
studying at Paris, Bologna, and Padua ; at the last he 
became the pupil of the famous Baptista Egnatius, the 
friend and fellow- worker of Erasmus. 

The ideas which he imbibed in the course of his 
education appear to be a sort of continuation or de- 
velopment of those of Erasmus. There is a striking 
resemblance between the views of Busbecq and those 
of his contemporary, Pierre de la Ramee. These 
views and theories consisted in making the results 
achieved by the ancients a new point of departure for 
the learning of modern times.^ In medicine, for in- 

> See Appendix. Legitimation of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. The 
Patent is dated November 24, 1540. It is interesting to know that 
just before that date Charles had been making a progress throughout 
the neighbourhood of Bousbecque. He was at Ghent November i at 
Oudenarde on the 2nd, at Courtrai on the 3rd, at Tournai on the c'th 
at Lille on the 7th, and at Ypres on the 9th. {Journal des Voyages de 
Charles Quint. Par J. de Vandenesse.) Probably Ogier's father took 
advantage of the opportunity to procure from the Emperor the grant of 
Legitimation. 

"^ One of the most remarkable applications of this theory is with 



PJERRE DE LA RAM]£E. 



49 



Stance, the works of Galen and Hippocrates were to 
be taken for the foundation, and all later writers 
ignored ; on this substratum the medical science of the 
future was to be built. That these ideas rested on a 
sound basis there can be no doubt. Immense results, 
in almost every field of human knowledge, had been 
achieved during the palmy days of Greece and Rome ; 
with the downfall of the latter a flood of barbarism had 
poured over the civilised world. The human race had 
been struggling again towards the light, but struggling 
with slow and feeble step. In Busbecq's days they had 
not nearly reached the point where Greece and Rome 
left off. 

Compare, for instance, the writings of Philippe de 
Comines, one of the ablest men of his time, with those 
of Busbecq sixty years later. The former are stamped 
with the ideas of the middle ages, the latter are bright 
with the freshness of a modern writer. The difference 
is simply enormous, and it is to be attributed to the 
fact that Philippe de Comines, who was fully conscious 
of his loss, was ignorant of Latin, while Busbecq had 

regard to the military art. Busbecq wrote a treatise on the Art of War- 
fare against the Twks. In it he constantly quotes as his authorities 
the great captains of Greece and Rome ; some may smile on reading his 
work, and imagine that the tactics of Cassar and Alexander are out of 
place in the days of gunpowder and cannon balls, but the following pas- 
sage will show how one of his countrymen successfully followed out the 
principle, which he may possibly have taken in the first instance from 
Busbecq's work. ' Lewis William of Nassau had felt that the old mili- 
tary art was dying out, and that there was nothing to take its place. He 
had revived in the swamps of Friesland the old manoeuvres, the quick- 
ness of wheeling, the strengthening, without breaking the ranks or 
columns, by which the ancient Romans had performed so much excellent 
work in their day, and which seemed to have passed entirely into oblivion. 
Old colonels and ritt-masters, who had never heard of Leo the Thracian 
or the Macedonian phalanx, smiled and shrugged their shoulders . . . 
but there came a day when they did not laugh, neither friends nor 
enemies.'— Motley, Untied Netherlands, iii. 4; see also United Nether- 
lands, iv. 34. 

VOL. I. E 



so LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

kept company, as it were, with the brightest wits 
and most learned men of ancient times. 

But it must not be supposed that the men of 
Ramie's school had any idea of contenting themselves 
with the knowledge of the ancients ; on the contrary, 
they made it the starting-point for the prosecution of 
further discoveries. Busbecq's letters furnish us with an 
excellent instance of the practice of these ideas. With 
Pliny, Galen, Vopiscus at his fingers' ends, he is ever 
seeking to verify, correct, or enlarge the store he has 
received. For him all knowledge is gain, and he seeks 
it in every quarter ; inscriptions, coins, manuscripts ; 
birds, beasts, and flowers ; the homes, customs, and lan- 
guages of mankind ; the secrets of earth, air, and water 
— all alike are subjects of interest to him. One trait marks 
the man. On his journeys he made it a rule, as soon as 
he reached his halting-place for the night, to sally forth 
in search of some discovery. Occasionally an inscrip- 
tion, or some of his favourite coins, was the result ; at 
other times it would be a strange plant, or even a quaint 
story ; but whatever it was, it was duly garnered. 

It seems probable that Busbecq, after the comple- 
tion of his studies, returned to Flanders, and for a few 
years led that quiet life with his books and a few 
friends, which afterwards, amid the blaze and glare of 
a court, seemed to him the perfection of human hap- 
piness. We have no record of his life during these 
years, but it is easy to picture it. Many a quiet morn- 
ing spent in reading at Bousbecque, or in a corner of 
the Halluin library at Comines, a chat with a chance 
student friend as to the last news from the Universities, 
a stroll to inspect Roman coins or pottery lately dis- 
covered at Wervicq, a search for some rare plant, a 
series of observations on the habits of some animal. 
Nor would his life be spent only in the country. At 



OGIER'S RELATIVES. 51 

Lille there was the family mansion, and his aunt 
Marie Ghiselin to welcome him ; there he could find a 
larger circle of literary friends, and ransack their libra- 
ries for books, which might be absent from the collec- 
tions at Bousbecque and Comines. 

It may seem strange that he was so thoroughly ac- 
cepted in the family, but the explanation is not diffi- 
cult. His address was singularly winning, and at the 
same time he inspired every one with confidence in his 
honesty ; ^ he was remarkable for his tact '^ in dealing 
with the prejudices of his fellow-creatures, and when it 
was necessary to be firm^ he could be firm without 
blustering. The qualities which made him so success- 
ful as a diplomatist were the qualities most calculated 
to endear him to his friends. The man who could in- 
gratiate himself with Roostem was not likely to be 
unpopular among his own kith and kin. 

We now come to the event which first intro- 
duced Busbecq into public life. On July 25, 1554, in 

1 His contemporary, L. Guicciardini, says of him in his book, pub- 
lished 1567, 'II est homme sage et prudent : a cause dequoy il ha este 
envoys plusieurs fois ambassadeur par les Princes en divers endroicts, 
pour tres-grans affaires et mesmes par I'Empereur Fernand, a Sohman 
Empereur des Turcs, ou il traicta, par I'espace de huict ans continuels les 
affaires de la Chrestiente, avec telle fidelite et loyaiite que outre le grd 
qu'il acquit empres de son Seigneur, fut surnommd par les Turcs mesmes, 
Homme de bien.' — Description de tout le Pais bas, p. 311. 

^ On his way to Constantinople some of his escort complained of his 
servants not paying proper respect to paper — an unpardonable offence in 
the eyes of a Turk, Another might have argued the question, but 
Busbecq thoroughly appreciated the men he was dealing with. He 
tacitly admitted the heinousness of the offence; ' but,' added he, ' what 
can you expect of fellows who eat pork ? ' This argument was in their 
eyes unanswerable. 

•'' Roostem once sent a fine melon to Busbecq, telling him that there 
was plenty of such fruit at Belgrade ; the melon was supposed to repre- 
sent a cannon-ball, and the message was tantamount to a threat of war. 
Busbecq thanked him warmly for his present, and at the same time took 
the opportunity of observing that the Belgrade melons were very small 
compared to those produced at Vienna I 

E 2 



52 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

Winchester Cathedral, Mary of England gave her hand 
to Philip of Spain. Among those who witnessed the 
ceremony was Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. 

It was only natural that Ferdinand, the brother of 
Charles V., should send an ambassador to represent 
him at the marriage of his nephew to the daughter of 
his unfortunate aunt, Catherine of Aragon. For this 
purpose he selected a Spanish gentleman, Don Pedro 
Lasso de Castilla,' who had been the companion of his 
boyhood in Spain, and had since continued to be a 
member of his household. With him Busbecq went 
as attach^. In the life appended to the Elzevir edi- 
tion of Busbecq's letters, we are told that he joined the 
embassy on Don Pedro's invitation ; but in a document 
of infinitely higher authority, the Patent of knighthood 
given in the Appendix, it is distinctly stated that the 
summons came from Ferdinand himself, who thus 

^ Don Pedro Lasso de Castilla was grandson of Don Pedro de Cas- 
tilla, who claimed to be descended from an illegitimate son of Pedro the 
Cruel, King of Castile. The grandfather married Catalina Lasso, and was 
living at Madrid in 1494. His son, Don Pedro Lasso de Castilla, married 
a lady of the noble family of Haro, and three of their children were in 
the service of Ferdinand and his son. Francisco was Mayor-domo 
Mayor of Maria the wife of the Emperor Maximilian, and accompanied 
his daughter, Anne of Austria, to Spain in 1570. Diego was at one 
time Ferdinand's ambassador at Rome, while Pedro served Ferdinand 
from his childhood, and accompanied him to Germany, when he left 
Spain after the death of his grandfather Ferdinand. He became his 
Master of Horse, and governor to his son Maximilian, in whose house- 
hold he subsequently held the post of Mayor-domo Mayor. He was 
created a Knight of the Order of Santiago, at Brussels, by a Patent 
dated March 26, 1549. (See Ouintana, Historia de Madrid.) This ac- 
count has been given at greater length because it has been frequently 
stated that Busbecq's chief was Pierre Lasso, a native of Lille ; we can 
find no trace of any such person. 

On the other hand, Ferdinand's ambassador is frequently spoken of 
in the Calendar of State Papers of the reign of Mary (vol. ii. pp. 78, 90, 94, 
&c.), as Don Pedro Lasso de Castella (Castilla). See also Viagede Felipe 
Segutido d Inglaterra by Mufioz. This rare work, written by a contem- 
porary, was repubhshed at Madrid 1877, under the supervision of Don 
Pascual de Gayangos, to whose kindness we are indebted for the reference. 



MARRIAGE OF PHILIP AND MARY. 53 



adopted into his service the grandson of the icuyer 
trenchant who had served his brother, his father, and 
his great-grandfather. 

In order to mark the importance of the occasion, 
Don Pedro Lasso was attended to England by a 
numerous train, many of whom were gentlemen. Al- 
together there were nearly seventy persons in his suite. ^ 
The arrival of this embassy was peculiarly gratify- 
ing to Queen Mary, and she caused Don Pedro and 
his staff to be received with special honours. As 
they entered London, June 26, 1554, a salute was 
fired from the Tower, a compliment which excited the 
jealousy of Noailles, the French ambassador.- 

Busbecq must have had no ordinary powers as a 
linguist, for we have it on the authority of his contem- 
porary, L. Guicciardini, that there were six languages 
with which he was as familiar and ready as with his 
mother tongue (Flemish). These were Latin, Italian, 
French, Spanish, German, and Slav ; unfortunately, a 
knowledge of English was not amongst the number 
of his accomplishments, and this may partially account 
for the absence in his letters of any allusion to the 
manners and customs of our country. It is much to 
be regretted that we have not got some record of his 
visit ; if he acted as secretary, as is supposed, possibly 
his despatches from England may still be lying among 
the archives at Vienna to gladden the heart of some 
future discoverer. 

Don Pedro Lasso with Busbecq and the rest of his 
suite, stayed in England till October 1 554. They then 
took leave of the Queen, and travelled down to Dover 
with the intention of crossing over to the Continent. 
Here they found themselves stopped. Every day 

' See Calendar of State Papers of the reign of Mary, vol. ii. p. 90. 
' See page 75. 



54 LIFE OF BUSBFCQ. 



French vessels could be seen hovering off the harbour 
in search of a Prize. The Ambassador found it neces- 
sary to write ^ to Queen Mary, reminding her that he 
had only come to England by his master's orders to 
do honour to her nuptials, and asking her to give such 
mstructions as would ensure his safe departure. It is 
not likely that an ambassador who was received with 
such high distinction made so reasonable a request in 
vain, and there can therefore be little doubt, that 
Busbecq and his chief were escorted to Calais by a 
squadron of English ships manned with stout sailors 
from the Cinque Ports. 

On reaching the Netherlands, the embassy was 
broken up, Don Pedro repaired to Brussels, and 
Busbecq went back to his friends and relatives. It is 
evident^ that the young diplomatist had impressed his 
chief with a very high idea of his ability and discre- 
tion, for a {c^N days after his return from England, 
whilst staying with his aunt Marie Ghiselin, at Lille, 
he received a summons from Ferdinand to undertake 
the duties of ambassador at Constantinople. He was 
called to a most difficult and apparendy hopeless task. 

Ferdinand of Austria, King of the Romans, and 
afterwards Emperor, Sovereign of Hungary and Bo- 
hemia, was in a most critical position ; it is no exag- 
geration to say that he and his kingdoms lay at the 
mercy of the Sultan, who might any day annihilate 
his forces, and take possession of his dominions. His 
only hope of rescuing his subjects from slavery lay in 
the skill of his ambassadors. In 1545 Gerard Velt- 
wick^ (Velduvic), had been sent to represent the two 
brothers, Charles V. and Ferdinand, at the Turkish 

^ This letter is dated Dover, October 6, 1554. See Calendar of State 
Papers oj tJie reign of Mary, vol. ii. p. 125. 

^ See Appendix. Sketch of Hungarian History ■ see also Itineraries. 



JOHN MARIA MAL VEZZI. 



court ; on his return, John Maria Malvezzi, one of his 
companions, had succeeded to the post. Malvezzi was 
not fortunate ; the Turks regarded an ambassador 
simply in the light of a hostage,^ and when Ferdmand 
in the autumn of 155 1 broke faith with them by takmg 
possession of Transylvania, they threw Malvezzi mto 
a horrible, dungeon; there the unfortunate man re- 
mained till August 1553, when his release was pro- 
cured by Francis Zay and Antony Wranczy (Verantius) 
afterwards Bishop of Erlau, who came to Constan- 
tinople as Ferdinand's representatives. 

Malvezzi returned to Vienna broken in health by 
his sufferings In the Turkish dungeon. It was not 
long, however, before Ferdinand ordered him to resume 
his duties at Constantinople ; Malvezzi did his utmost 
to comply with his master's wish ; he struggled as far 
as Komorn and there broke down. Ferdinand sus- 
pected him of pretending to be worse than he really 
was, in order to avoid a post of the perils of which he 
had had such painful experience. As Busbecq forcibly 
remarks, Malvezzi's death a few months later removed 

this doubt ! 

Ferdinand had need of some one to succeed Mal- 
vezzi. It was not an enviable post, and the courtiers 
of Vienna had no fancy for the risk of being slowly 
done to death in some noisome dungeon at Constan- 
tinople, or of returning, as the Pashas at one time 
intended Busbecq should return, noseless and earless ! 
But Ferdinand felt that it was absolutely necessary to 
have a representative at the Turkish Court to assist 
him in staving off the evil day. Accordingly he sent 
a summons to Busbecq, and at the same time de- 
spatched a message to his late chief, Don Pedro Lasso, 
asking him to use his influence with the young diplo- 

1 See Sketch of Hungarian History. 



5^ LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



matist, and urge him to start at once for Vienna. It 
would seem as if the post were but httle coveted, when 
such pressure had to be apphed. Busbecq, however, 
needed no urging ; he was a man capable of finding 
mtense pleasure in new scenes, new work, new dis- 
coveries, and all were included in the prospect now 
openmg to his eager eyes. 

It was on Novembers, I554, that Ogier received 
t'erdmand's message. Heat once started for Bous- 
becque, and paid a last visit of love to his father his 
friends, and the home that was so dear to him Thence 
he hurried off to Brussels, where he had an interview 
with his old chief, and before many hours were past 
he was galloping along the road to Vienna. A com- 
parison of dates will show how very prompt Busbecq 
must have been. He received the summons on No- 
vember 3, and by the eighteenth he had reached 
Vienna, having paid at least two visits in the mean- 
time, and made his preparations for his distant journey 
It was probably at Bousbecque that he enlisted the 
followers who were to accompany him in his lono- and 
perilous expedition ; it is evident that they were Flem- 
ings, sturdy fellows who knew no fear, fond of a bottle 
ot wine, and not averse to a practical joke ' There 
were amongst them men of fair education,'^ who had 
perhaps been trained in the chapter-school of Comine'^ 
and there was one man of eminent ability, who came 
froni the neighbouring town of Courtrai, William Ouac- 
quelben.^ He acted as physician to the party, a^d at 

^ Compare the pardon of Jean Dael in the Appendix with the story 
of the Greek steward and the snails, page 1-2 ^ 

' L. Guicciardini says of the Netherlanders, ' La pluspart des eens ont 
quelque commencement de Grammaire, et presque tous, voretsques Tu 
villageo.s, sgavent hre et ^.cr\r^.'^Description de tout e Pa^sUT^^ 



EMBASSIES TO CONSTANTINOPLE. 57 

first seems to have occupied a position little differing 
from that of a servant ; how Busbecq learnt to love 
and appreciate him will be told in his own words. 

Even the journey to Vienna had dangers of its 
own. A system of posting had already been established 
between Brussels and Vienna, so that Busbecq could 
change his weary steeds at every stage ; but it was 
November, the days were short and the nights long, 
and his business being urgent, he had to risk his neck 
by galloping over villainous roads long after it was 
dark. 

At Vienna he was welcomed by an old friend and 
fellow-countryman, John Van der Aa, who was now 
acting as one of Ferdinand's privy council ; it was in 
a great measure owing to his strong recommendation 
that Ferdinand invited Busbecq into his service. John 
Van der Aa had now the pleasure of presenting the 
young Ambassador to Ferdinand, who received him in 
a manner betokening at once kindness and confidence. 

It is net the object here to anticipate his account ; 
how he visited his dying predecessor Malvezzi, and 
all the particulars of his journey to Constantinople, may 
be read in his own words. Busbecq tells his story in 
his own pleasant way ; this memoir is only intended 
to fill up the blanks as far as possible ; as to the rest, 
the writer will be left to speak for himself.^ 

Something perhaps ought to be said as to the style 
of his work. It was the fashion among the students of 
that day to compose short accounts of their journeys 
for the information and amusement of their friends. 

^ We take this opportunity of explaining how it comes to pass, that in 
this Life of Busbecq, in which so much space is assigned to an account of 
his relations, so small a portion comparatively is devoted to the man 
himself. Busbecq's letters are to a great extent an autobiography. It • 
would be impossible to anticipate their contents without robbing them of 
their freshness. 



58 LIFE OF BUSBECQ, 



These were generally written in Latin verse, very- 
much after the model of Horace's journey to Brundi- 
sium. (Hon Sat. i. 5.) Busbecq speaks of his first 
Turkish letter as containing two of these itineraries/ 
and it was originally published under the title of 
Itinera Constajitiiwpolitanuni et Amasianum ; the other 
three letters, though not stricdy itineraries, are written 
in the same style. Probably these letters would 
not have been half so amusing, or half so instruc- 
tive, if Busbecq had intended them for publication ; 
so far was he from thinking, when he wrote them, 
of committing them to print, that it was not till some 
twenty years later that any of them saw the light, and 
then only the first was published. Neither did the 
author ever sanction the publication. His country- 
man, L. Carrion, took on himself the responsibility 
of sending the work to the press. It is from him we 
learn that the letters were written to Nicolas Michault, 
seigneur of Indeveldt, Busbecq's fellow-student in Italy, 
and for many years Ambassador ^ to the Court of Por- 
tugal ; he also tells us that the writer never intended 
to give them to the public. That Busbecq had at any 
rate no hand whatever in the publication is abundantly 
proved by the mistakes of Carrion, some of which have 
been repeated in subsequent editions. For instance, 
the first letter ought to be dated September i, 1555, 
whereas in all the Latin editions it is printed Sep- 
tember r, 1554, the internal evidence being conclusive 
as to the correctness of the former date. 

' See Appendix Itineraries. 

^ He was Ambassador for the two Queens, i.e., Mary Queen of Hungary 
and Leonora Queen of Portugal and France, sisters of Charles V. and 
Ferdinand, who after thfir widowhood lived together in the Netherlands 
till the abdication of Charles X., when they accompanied their brother 
to Spjin. 



VISIT TO SPAIN. 59- 



Biisbccq at the Coicrt of Vienna. 

The four Turkish letters supply us with a full 
account of the eight years which Busbecq spent at the 
Court of Solyman, and it will not be necessary to take 
up the thread of his story till his return to Germany 
in the autumn of 1562. 

At first he was uncomfortable, and felt out of his 
element in the atmosphere of a court ; he hoped for a 
peaceful paradise after George Halluin's model, by the 
waters of the Lys, a quiet home furnished with plenty 
of books, a good garden, and a few friends. 

But his services were far too highly valued by 
Ferdinand and his son Maximilian to allow of his 
retirement. 

It was not long before a new post was found for 
him. Very soon after Busbecq's return from Constan- 
tinople, an application was made to Maximilian, which, 
if it gratified his ambition, must also have filled him 
with the greatest anxiety. Philip of Spain proposed 
to bestow the hand of his daughter on one of Maximi- 
lian's sons, and, distrusting no doubt the more liberal 
tone which prevailed at the Court of Vienna, coupled 
the proposal with the condition, that the young Arch- 
dukes, Rodolph and Ernest, should be entrusted to his 
charge. Though Maximilian acceded to his request, 
it was probably not without compunction that that wise 
and tolerant prince committed his two boys — the eldest 
of whom was only eleven years of age — into the keep- 
ing of the royal bigot. 

The only precaution open to him lay in the ap- 
pointment of the officers of the household which 
was to accompany them to Spain. To Busbecq was 
assigned the post of dciiyer trenchant, ^ an appoint- 

^ Ecuyer {escitier) trenchant. The first of these words supplies the 



6o LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



ment which met with the warm approval of Fer- 
dinand. 

The young- Archdukes proceeded to Spain. They 
were handed over to the Jesuits to be educated, and 
Busbecq left their service. It is easy to understand 
that a man brought up in the school of Erasmus was 
not likely to prove acceptable to the staff of instructors 
appointed by Philip ; but whatever the circumstances 
may have been through which he lost his post, it is 
certain that he in no way fell in the estimation of Fer- 
dinand and Maximilian. The latter, on his coronation 
as Kmg of Hungary (September 8, 1563). bestowed 
on Busbecq the honour of knighthood ; the occasion 
was peculiarly appropriate, as the Ambassador had by 
his diplomatic skill greatly mitigated the lot of the in- 
habitants of that unfortunate kingdom. This distinc- 
tion was confirmed by the Emperor, who issued the 
Patent, dated April 3, 1564, a copy of which will be 
found in the Appendix. A far greater proof, however, 
of Maximilian's esteem and confidence was received 
by Busbecq about this time. Rodolph and Ernest, his 

derivations for two English titles (i) squire, (2) sewer ; the first being the 
equivalent of ecuyer, and the second of eaiyer trenchant. The office of 
sewer {^cuyer trenchant) is alluded to by Wxltorv, Paradise Lost, ix., where 
the poet speaks of 

Marshaird feast 
Served up in hall by sewers and seneschals. 

' Here,' says Todd in his note, ' is an allusion to the magnificence of 
elder days ; the marshal of the hall, the sewer and the seneschal having 
been officers of distinction in the houses of princes and great men. 
From Minshew's Guide into Tongues it appears that the marshal placed 
the guests according to their rank, and saw they were properly arranged, 
the sewer marched in before the meats and arranged them on the table, 
and the seneschal was the household steward, a name of frequent occur- 
rence in old law books, and so in French ''le grand Seneschal de 
France,' synonymous with our " Lord High Steward of the King's 
household." ' Busbecq himself held the offices of sewer and seneschal. 
See Appendix, Sauvegarde &^c., where Parma gives him the title r,<" 
* Grand maistre d'hostel de la Royne Isabella.' 



THE ARCHDUCHESS ELIZABETH. 6r 

two eldest sons, were being- educated by Philip's Jesuits ; 
but the Archdukes Matthias, MaximiHan, Albert, and 
Wenceslaus, were still under their father's care, and by 
him Busbecq was appointed their governor and sene- 
schal. For several years he was engaged in superin- 
tending the household and education of the young 
Archdukes, whom, according to Howaert,^ he had the 
honour of escorting to Spain and introducing to Philip. 
His youthful charges had not yet arrived at manhood, 
when his services were required for their sister. 

Busbecq iii France. 

Maximilian's daughter, the Archduchess Elizabeth 
(Isabella), had to leave her family and her country to 
unite her fortunes with Charles IX. of France, the un- 
happy king whose memory will be for ever associated 
with the massacre of St. Bartholomew. The position 
she went to occupy was as perilous as it was brilliant. 
Queen of France, wife of Charles IX., daughter-in-law 
of Catherine de Medici, with Marguerite de Valois 
(afterwards Queen of Henry of Navarre), for a sister- 
in-law, she had need of the trustiest and wisest coun- 
sellor her father could supply ; and it was therefore no 
idle compliment to Busbecq, when he was called from 
the care of her brothers to take his place at the head 
of her household. He had, like his grandfather Gilles 
Ghiselin II., held the post o'i ^cuyer trenchant in the 
imperial family. He had next been appointed gover- 
nor and seneschal to the young Archdukes, and he was 
now sent as seneschal, or high steward, of the Arch- 
duchess's household when she left parents and father- 
land to share a foreign throne. 

The marriage took place by proxy, October 23, 

' See page 9. 



62 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

1570, and in the following month the Archduchess set 
out for France under the care of her faithful seneschal. 
A reader of the life of Busbecq prefixed to the Elzevir 
edition, would be led to suppose that he remained at 
the head of the Queen's household in France from that 
time forth. Such, however, was not the case. Various 
notices by his friends Lipsius,^ the celebrated scholar, 
and de I'Ecluse, the botanist, prove beyond doubt 
that he shortly afterwards returned to Vienna. At 
any rate he was there in the summer of 1572 and the 
winter of 1573, apparently the life and soul of the 
literary and scientific society of the Austrian capital. 
Here he was able to keep up to some degree his con- 
nection with Turkey, for we find that he received 
parcels of tulip bulbs and other rare plants from Con- 
stantinople, of which his countryman de I'Ecluse 
reaped the benefit. 

' See Lipsius' Letters, Centuria i. 5 : ' Prandium mihi'hodie apud 
heroem nostrum (non enim virum dixerim) Busbequium. Post pran- 
dium longiusculce etiam fabulse ; sed de litteris ut apud eum solet.' 
Vienna, June 13, 1572. It was at Vienna that Lipsius first made 
Busbecq's acquaintance (Lipsius, Ce?tt. iii. 87) ; they afterwards corre- 
sponded with each other {Cent. i. 17, 18, 34, 63). Lipsius felt his death 
deeply, and wrote of him in the strongest terms of affection and regret. 
{Cent. ii. ad Belgas, 78). The following inscription is from his hand : — 

In Augerh Gisleni Busbequii tristem mortem et situm. 
Augerius istic est situs Busbequius. 
Quis ille.'' Quern virtutis et prudentiee, 
Habuere carum, gratia, ipsi Cassares. 
Hunc aula eorum vidit, aula et extera 
Asise Tyranni. Quae viri felicitas ! 
Probavit hsc et ilia : in omni tempore, 
In munere omni, Nestorem se prsebuit 
Lingua atque mente. Jam quies eum sibi 
Et patria hasc spondebat ; ecce sustulit 
Viam per ipsam miles incertum an latro. 
Sed sustulit, simulque sidus Belgicas, 
Quod nunc choreas fulget inter astricas. 

Justus Lipsius magno amico exiguum 
monumentum P. 



MISSION TO FRANCE. 63 



Such a life must have been nearly as much after 
Busbecq's own heart as the paradise of which he 
dreamed by the waters of the Lys ; perhaps he thought 
his troubles were over, and he would be allowed to go 
peacefully to his grave after enriching the world with 
the fruits of a long course of scientific study. Such, 
however, was not to be the case. On May 30, 1574, 
Charles IX. of France ended his brief and unhappy 
life. The Archduchess Elizabeth was now a widow. 
What her position was may be gathered from the 
graphic touches in Busbecq's letters ; from the first it 

was difficult, and at last — to use her own words it 

became intolerable. 

The Emperor, on hearing of his son-in-law's death, 
immediately despatched his old friend and faithful 
servant to comfort his daughter, and take charge of her 
affairs. 

The instructions which Busbecq received were by 
no means simple. It was thought probable that the 
new king, Henry III., would make an ofi'er of his 
hand to Elizabeth, and this alliance would, it appears, 
have been acceptable to Maximilian ; the widowed 
Queen did not care for her brother-in-law, but was 
prepared to yield to her father's wishes. There was a 
possibility also of a match with Sebastian, the chivalrous 
boy-king of Portugal, or, again, of her being asked to 
undertake the government of the Netherlands. 

There was also the question whether if she re- 
mained a widow, she was to live in France or return 
home, and whether, if she came back, she would be 
allowed to bring with her her delicate little daughter. 
Important above all other matters though, in the eyes 
of Maximilian, was the question of her dower. The 
usual allowance for a widowed Queen of France was 
6o,coo francs per annum, and this sum had been settled 



64 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

on Elizabeth at her marriage. Busbecq was to see that 
this income was properly secured, and this was no easy 
matter. He found from the case of Mary Queen of 
Scots, that promises to pay were of little value unless 
the sums were charged on part of the crown lands, and 
it was only with great difficulty that he managed to 
effect a tolerably satisfactory arrangement. Such was 
the general purport of Busbecq's instructions. He had 
also a sort of roving commission to report on the 
general condition of France, and the character of her 
public men ; he was to chronicle passing events, and 
give an estimate of what the future was likely to bring 
forth. Reports on these heads, with an occasional 
piece of gossip, form the contents of his letters to the 
Emperor Maximilian.^ The first of this series is 
dated Speyer, August 22, 1574, and the last, Wasser- 
burg, February 8, 1576. 

After conducting his widowed mistress back to 
her parents, Busbecq returned to France to take 
charge of her affairs. He had to collect the revenues 
of her dower, which were charged on sundry lands 
in Berry, Marche, and Forez, and generally to protect 
her interests at the court. To this employment 
more important duties were afterwards united. On 
the death of Maximilian, his son Rodolph suc- 
ceeded to the throne. The new Emperor was well 
acquainted with Busbecq, who, as has already been 

' Busbecq's letters to Maximilian appear to have altogether escaped 
the notice of historians and biographers. They are printed only in one rare 
book, Howaert's second edition of Busbecq's letters from France, 1632. 
In the same edition are to be found five more letters to Rodolph, written 
during the wars of the League. It seems impossible to suppose that 
Motley knew of them, for they contain some of those striking details 
which the historian of the Netherlands would certainly have appropriated 
— for example, the chain shot, the musket balls joined together with 
copper wire, and the fences of rope, with which Parma prepared to en- 
counter the cavalry of Henry of Navarre. 



THE EMPEROR RODOLPH. 65 



mentioned, had acted as his dcuyer trenchant when 
he left his home for Spain; and though Rodolph's 
mmd was to a certain extent warped by the education 
he had received from the Jesuits, he nevertheless in- 
herited his father's and grandfather's appreciation of 
Busbecq. Accordingly, we find him employing Bus- 
becq as his representative at the Court of France, and 
receiving letters from him containing not only the 
news, but the gossip of the capital. It is generally 
stated that Busbecq's position was that of ambassador ; 
this is doubtful, though there is no question as to his 
having discharged the duties and exercised the in- 
fluence of an ambassador. There is an obvious reason 
for his not having been accredited as a regular diplo- 
matic representative. He was a Fleming, and there- 
fore a subject of Philip of Spain. Even at the court 
of Constantinople this circumstance had proved an 
obstacle in the course of his negotiations, and it was 
still more likely to be a stumbling-block at the court 
of France. His services, however, being too valuable 
to be dispensed with by the Emperor, it would appear 
that the difficulty was surmounted by giving him the 
work without the title— in short, he was ambassador 
without the credentials of an ambassador. 

The letters of Busbecq to Rodolph, as printed in 
the Elzevir edition, are fifty-three in number. The 
first is dated March 25, 1582 ; the last was written 
December 8, 1585. We have in them a description 
of France on the eve of a most important epoch, the 
wars of the League ; and we have also a most valuable 
account of the progress of events in the Low Coun- 
tries, in which Busbecq as a Fleming felt a strong 
personal interest. 

It is not necessary to enter into the history of a 
period which has been made familiar to English readers 



VOL. I, 



66 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

by Motley's Rise of the Dutch Republic, and United 
Netherlands ; but, on the other hand, it must not be 
supposed that there is no additional information to be 
gleaned from Busbecq's letters by those who are already 
acquainted with the works of the American historian. 
On the contrary, there are points omitted by Motley 
which are of considerable importance ; as, for instance, 
Alengon's plan for making Dunkirk the seat of his 
government. Again, there are questions like that of 
Salceda's conspiracy, in which Busbecq's evidence 
does not appear to have been sufficiently considered. 
To those who are content to take their history 
at second hand, it is useless to suggest the advisa- 
bility of comparing Busbecq's letters with the re- 
ceived modern histories ; to real students the advan- 
tages are obvious. Here is a witness almost, one might 
say, under cross-examination. Busbecq had to send off 
his despatches to his master periodically. He could not 
alter or retouch them ; he was obliged to content him- 
self with giving the news of the day, and his estimate 
of its value at the time. A distinguished general has 
said that in his profession it was necessary to be near 
the troops who were actually engaged, in order to feel 
the pulse of the battle ; and it is only by reading the 
works of contemporary writers that we can feel the 
pulse of history. 

It is not impossible that Busbecq had his own hopes 
and ambitions with regard to the Netherlands. On 
September 15, 1578, the eldest of his Imperial pupils, 
the Archduke Matthias, was appointed Governor- 
General of the insurgent Provinces. It is vain now to 
inquire into what might have been, but in 1578 it could 
not have seemed altogether impossible that peace and 
happiness might be in store for the Netherlands under 
the government of the son of Maximilian and grandson 



WILLIAM THE SILENT. 67 

of Ferdinand. It is a significant fact that Busbecq's 
despatches to Rodolph prior to March 1582 have not 
been allowed to see the light. Matthias left the 
Netherlands in October 1581, so that Busbecq's pub- 
lished correspondence commences just six months after 
the departure of the Archduke. If ever the earlier 
letters should be forthcoming, they will, no doubt, be 
found to contain much interesting information as to 
this episode in the history of the Netherlands, and 
this, in all probability, is the reason they have been 
suppressed. 

In writing to Maximilian of William the Silent, 
Busbecq speaks of the great patriot of the Netherlands 
in terms of the highest respect. When writing to 
Rodolph some eight years later, his tone is completely 
altered. It is evident that he dislikes him. This change 
is not surprising if we remember the treatment which 
Busbecq's pupil had in the interval experienced at his 
hands. It seems evident that in this instance Orange 
placed his faith in the strong battalions ; he preferred 
a treacherous scoundrel to an honest and capable ^ man, 
because the one could bring French troops into the 
field, and the other had but his own sword to offer. 
It would be a curious problem to consider whether 

• It is impossible to regard Motley as fair in his treatment of Matthias. 
The historian of the Netherlands evidently considers that he holds a brief 
for William of Orange ; if the great patriot fails to act wisely and rightly, 
some justification must be made out ! Matthias accordingly is treated 
as a meddlesome interloper, for venturing to accept the invitation of a 
large body of the leading men of the Netherlands — amongst whom were 
some of Orange's friends — to come amongst them as their governor. 
And yet Matthias was a descendant of their last native sovereign, Mary 
of Burgundy, and brother of the head of that Empire of which the Low 
Countries formed part. Motley cannot call in question his courage, his 
humanity, or his honourable conduct, but he damns him with faint praise, 
dismissing him with these words : ' It is something in favour of Matthias 
that he had not been base, or cruel, or treacherous.' — Rise of the Dutch 
Republic, part vi. chap. 4. 

F 2 



68 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



in this matter Orange was wise in his generation. 
What did the Netherlands gain by substituting Alen9on 
for Matthias ? 

With regard to the rehgious aspect of the struggle, 
Busbecq's evidence is peculiarly valuable. He was a 
Netherlander, who had left his native country before 
the struggle broke out. Circumstances had never 
compelled him to cast in his lot with the one party or 
the other. 

A reference to his conversation at Prinkipo with 
Metrophanes^ the Metropolitan, shows us what Bus- 
becq's wishes must have been. If he desired to see 
the Greek Church reunited to the Western, he must 
have been anxious to preserve the latter from schism. 
His views were those of Erasmus ; he wished for 
union and he wished for reform. That Busbecq was 
a deeply religious man may be gathered from his de- 
scription of the death of Quacquelben and other pas- 
sages ; that he was not in any way imbued with the 
superstitions of his time may be seen by the fact that 
he went to Constantinople accompanied not by his 
priest, but by his Bible. From the circumstances of 
the case it is almost necessary that the evidence with 
regard to a religious war should be the evidence of 
partisans ; hence the great authority due to the testi- 
mony of a neutral. 

The reader will be left to gather from Busbecq's 
own letters an idea of his life at Paris, and it will only 
be necessary to resume the story at the point where 
his letters cease. 

At the end of his fifty-first despatch we find that 
his couriers have difficulty in passing through the 
country, on account of the outbreak of hostilities be- 
tween the Guises, the King, and Henry of Navarre. 

^ See Fourth Turkish Letter, 



THE OLD HOME. 69 



At this point in the Elzevir edition, Busbecq's let- 
ters come to an end, and we should have to part com- 
pany with him at the close of 1585, if it were not for 
the edition by Howaert already referred to, which for- 
tunately preserves five more letters to Rodolph, dated 
from November 13, 1589 to August 27, 1590. These 
despatches contain interesting and valuable information 
as to the state of France during the wars of the League ; 
among the more striking passages is an account of the 
siege of Paris, and a comparison of the relative chances 
of Parma and Henry IV. in the struggle that was then 
imminent. 

During these troublous times, Busbecq must have 
led an uncomfortable life in France, with no certain 
resting-place, but driven hither and thither, as the tide 
of battle ebbed and flowed. It is no wonder that he 
sighed for the day when he should bid farewell to his 
dangerous task, and enter the quiet haven he had pre- 
pared for his old age. 

In spite of his long sojourn in foreign courts, 
his heart still yearned for the home of his forefathers. 
The chateau had suffered at the hands of the insur- 
gents, and the vassals of the seigneury were well 
nigh ruined by the requisitions of the Spaniards ; 
but its associations had a charm for Busbecq such as 
no other place on earth could have. His first step was 
to purchase ^ a life interest in the seigneury from his 
nephew, Charles de Yedeghem. He next proceeded 
to restore and repair the chateau, so as to make it fit 
for his residence. A tradition still lingers at Bous- 
becque of the beautiful garden ^ which he formed, and 

' The deed by which this transfer was effected is dated December 18, 
1587. It will be found in the Appendix. 

"^ No doubt the garden was such as Erasmus loved. See Nisard : 
'Au sortir de table, on va s'asseoir dans le jardin, au milieu des fleurs 



70 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 

the lilacs, tulips, and other new plants with which he 
filled it. Nor was he forgetful of the interests of his 
vassals. In the Mairie of Bousbecque may still be 
seen the Sauvegarde which Parma granted to the 
inhabitants, in token of his respect for their Seigneur. 
A copy of it will be found in the Appendix. Its date 
will recall a famous event — the defeat of the Spanish 
Armada. 

Bttsbecqs Death. 

In the autumn of [592, when he was seventy years 
old, Busbecq obtained six months' leave of absence 
from his post,^ and set forth to revisit the home of his 
youth. It does not appear that he had seen it since 
the day he parted with his father, nearly forty years 
before ; meanwhile, the generation he knew must have 
well nigh passed away, and it was, no doubt, with a 
melancholy pleasure that the old man set out to take 
possession of his chateau and his seigneury. 

The country was in an unquiet state on account of 
the civil war which was then raging, and Busbecq 
took the precaution of furnishing himself with the 
passports both of the Leaguers and the Royalists. 
While passing through Normandy he stopped for the 
night at Cailly, a small village about nine miles from 
Rouen. This part of the country had in the preceding 
year been the scene of a long and desperate struggle 
between Parma and Navarre, and parties of armed 
men were prowling about, who combined the calling 
of the soldier with the exploits of the brigand. Durino- 

^tiquetdes, portant des inscriptions qui indiquent leurs noms et leurs 
qualitds mddicinales.' — Retiaissance et Reforme, i. 60. 

^ Elizabeth of Austria having died January 22, 1592, Busbecq's duties 
as her seneschal had come to an end, but he was still acting as Rodolph's 
representative. It is probable that he took his holiday as soon as he had 
wound up the affairs of his late mistress. 



BURIAL OF BUSBECQS HEART. 71 



the night one of these troops, who professed to be 
fighting for the League, swept down on the little 
hamlet where Busbecq was lodging, took possession of 
his portmanteaux, and carried him off, telling him that 
they were acting under the orders of the governor of 
Rouen. The old man, nothing daunted by their 
violence, gave them a lecture on the ambassadorial 
privileges to which he was entitled, and told them that 
he did not believe that any such order had been issued 
by the governor of Rouen. Perhaps he frightened 
them, more probably he persuaded them — at any rate, 
next morning they brought him back to Cailly, and 
restored his baggage. 

The governor of Rouen, on hearing of the affair, 
apologised for the outrage, and offered to inflict severe 
punishment on the offenders. The good old man 
replied that he was too much occupied in making his 
peace with God to think of revenging injuries. He 
felt he was dying. The shock he had received in his 
encounter with the marauders proved fatal. He was 
never to see the home for which he had so often 
yearned in distant lands. He was removed from 
Cailly to the chateau of the Lady of Maillot, near 
St. Germain, not far from Rouen, and there he died, 
October 28, 1592. 

Even when the hand of death was upon him, his 
thoughts were of the home he loved. He desired 
that his heart at least should be laid in Bousbecque 
Church by the side of his forefathers. 

But his wish was not immediately fulfilled. All 
his attendants could then do was to consign his body 
with due honours to a tomb in the church of St. 
Germain. Six years later, when Busbecq's former 
pupil. Archduke Albert, was Governor-General of the 
Netherlands, his dying wish was remembered. His 



7 2 LIFE OF BUSBECQ. 



heart was placed in a leaden casket and conveyed to 
BoLisbecque, where it was consigned to its last resting- 
place amid all the pomp ^ and ceremony of a great 
military funeral. 

In Bousbecque Church may still be seen the 
monument which the Ambassador erected to his 
grandfather, Gilles Ghiselin, ^ctiyer trenchmit to three 
generations of the house of Burgundy, and Agnes 
Gommer, his wife. Underneath that monument their 
remains are still resting to-day, and in the same grave 
still lies their grandson's heart. 

servei'3 'Tvf "^^''t P^''^ ''" '^'' occasion; the accounts are still pre- 
served among the archives of Bousbecque. 



TURKISH LETTERS. 



LETTER I. 

Introduction — Return from England — Visit to Bousbecque — Posting 
to Vienna — Interview with Ferdinand — Malvezzi's misfortunes — Pre- 
parations for the expedition — Impatience of Ferdinand — Komorn — 
Paul Palyna — His ideas of punctuality — Meeting the Turkish escort — 
Gran — A Sanjak-bey — Feats of Turkish horsemen — A Tartar whose 
hair served as hat and helmet — Buda — The Pasha of Buda — His 
sickness and its cause — William Ouacquelben called in — Busbecq's 
fears — Janissaries — Their duties as policemen — Their dress — Their 
visits to Busbecq — Turkish guests and hard drinkers — Determined on 
making a night of it — Why Turks never drink in moderation — The 
old gentleman at Constantinople who gave notice to his soul — De- 
scription of Buda-Pesth — Turkish ideas with regard to houses — The 
fish in the boiling spring — Interview with the Pasha of Buda — A 
dilemma — Turkish customs — Busbecq embarks on the Danube for 
Belgrade — Heydons — Turkish sailors — Belgrade — Roman coins — 
Defence and capture of Belgrade — Louis of Hungary — Importance"of 
fortresses against Turkish inroads — Trajan's bridge — A Servian 
funeral — Servian marriage customs — Description of a Turkish Khan 
— A Turkish hostel — Sleeping in a stable — How Busbecq made him- 
self comfortable — How the party obtained supplies of wine — Turkish 
methods for measuring time — Busbecq's escort acknowledge the ad- 
vantages of a watch — Sophia — The Bulgarians — Dress and bonnets of 
the women — Baldwin, Count of Flanders — Trajan's pass — Philippo- 
polis — Adrianople — Turks fond of flowers — An open purse necessary 
in Turkey — Tchourlou — Sehm's defeat — Selimbria — Reverence of the 
Turks for paper — Reasons assigned by themselves for this superstition 
— The red-hot gridiron and the cock — Busbecq arrives at Constanti- 
nople — Visits Roostem — The story of Roostem's fall from power — 
Solyman — Roxolana — Mustapha — Roostem once a pig-driver — His 
services as a financier — Makes a profit out of the vegetables and 
flowers from the Sultan's gardens — Why a Sultan is obliged to murder 
his brothers — Mustapha summoned to his father's camp — The death 
sentence — The case submitted to the Mufti — The mutes — A look 
from Solyman — Mustapha strangled — Mutiny in the camp — Roostem 
dismissed — Mustapha's wife and son — Visit from Ibrahim Pasha — 
Trick played on the mother — Murder of the boy — Constantinople — 
St. Sophia — Superstitions as to unclean fish — The Greek and the 
snails — The cost of absolution in the Greek Church — Ancient columns 
— Ingenuity of a Greek architect — Wild beasts — A dancing elephant 



76 TURKISH LETTERS. 

— A camelopard — Sailing up the Bosphorus — Thoughts suggested by 
the beauty of the scene — Lazarus the Albanian — Busbecq summoned 
by Solyman to Amasia — Crosses into Asia — Nicomedia — Jackals — 
Nicaea — Angora goats — Fat-tailed sheep — The duck and the post- 
horn — Angora — Turkish tombs — The hyena — Its knowledge of lan- 
guage — How to catch it — Coins and plants — Town of Angora — 
Monumentum Ancyranum — Manufacture of mohair — Fishing in the 
Halys — Ignorance of the people — Sour milk — Turkish diet — Sherbet 
— Grapes preserved in mustard — Dervishes — Legend of Chederle the 
same as that of St. George — Amasia — Turkish incendiaries — Houses 
of Amasia — Visit to Achmet Pasha — Interview with Solyman — The 
Sultan's court — Promotion among the Turks — A body of Janissaries — 
Their steadiness in the ranks — The Persian Ambassador and his 
presents — Ali Pasha — Dinner given to the Persian Ambassador and 
his suite — Audience with Solyman on leaving — Why the Sultan uses 
rouge — Departure from Amasia — Busbecq ill — Returns to Constanti- 
nople — Schiites and Sunnites — Busbecq leaves Constantinople — 
Meets a train of Hungarian captives — One of the party dies from the 
plague — Others are attacked — Providential discovery of a remedy — 
Belgrade — Fertility of Hungary — Essek — Busbecq down with the 
fever — Mohacz — Plots of the brigands — Busbecq nearly caught — 
Interview with the Pasha of Buda — Departure for Komorn — How one 
of Busbecq's escort lost his nose and his horse — The Sanjak-bey im- 
proves the occasion — The value of a nose — The amount of compen- 
sation affected by the doctrine of predestination — Return to Vienna — 
Busbecq looks so ill that his friends think he is poisoned — Is regarded 
with envy — Apologises for his want of style. 

I UNDERTOOK, when we parted, to give you a full ac- 
count of my journey to Constantinople, and this promise 
I now hope to discharge with interest ; for I will give 
you also an account of an expedition ^ to Amasia, 
which is by far the rarer treat of the two. 

To an old friend like yourself'^ I shall write very 
freely, and I am sure you will enjoy some pleasant 
passages which befell me on my way ; and as to the 
disagreeables which are inseparable from a journey so 

^ The word used by Busbecq is ' iter,' the best equivalent to which in 
English is perhaps ' itinerary.' This first letter was originally published 
by itself as an itinerary, under the title Itinera Constantinopolitatiuni et 
Amasianum. The writing of itineraries, which were generally in Latin 
Verse, was a special feature among the students of Busbecq's days ; for 
an account of them, see Appendix Itineraries. 

^ These letters were written to Nicolas Michault. See page 58. 



RETURN FROM ENGLAND. 77 

long and so difficult, do not give them a thought, for I 
assure you that, though they annoyed me at the time, 
that very annoyance, now they are past and gone, only 
adds to my pleasure in recalling them. 

You will remember that, after my return home from 
England, where I attended the marriage of King 
Philip and Queen Mary,^ in the train of Don Pedro 
Lasso, whom my most gracious master, Ferdinand, 
King of the Romans, had deputed to represent him 
at the wedding, I received from the last-mentioned 
Sovereign a summons to undertake this journey. 

The message reached me at Lille '-^ on November 3, 
and without any delay, except such as was entailed by 
a detour to Bousbecque for the purpose of bidding 
adieu to my father and my friends, I hurried through 
Tournai, and thence to Brussels. 

Here I met Don Pedro himself; and he, to use an 
old proverb, gave the spur to a right willing horse, by 
showing me a letter he had received from the King, in 
which he charged him to make me set out as soon as 
possible. Accordingly, I took post-horses, and came 
with all speed to Vienna. Even at this early stage my 
journey brought troubles of its own, for I was quite 
unaccustomed to riding, and the time of year was by no 
means favourable to such an expedition, involving as 
it did bad weather, muddy roads, and short days. I 

' The wedding took place at Winchester, July 25, 1554. The am- 
bassador was Don Pedro Lasso de Castilla, a Spaniard, who held a high 
post in Ferdinand's household. ' Ajour d'huy (June 26, 1554) sont arrivez 
en ceste ville (London) dom Pietro Lasso et dom Hernando Gamboa, 
ambassadeurs de la part des roys des Romains et de Bohesme, lesquelz 
ont estd saluez de Fartillerie de la Tour, ce que Ton a trouvd fort estrange 
comme fabveur qui ne fust oncques faicte ^ aultres ambassadeurs.' — 
Noailles, iii. 262. See also p. 52. 

"^ The Busbecq family had a magnificent hotel at Lille ; his grand- 
mother, Agnes Gommer, had lived there after the death of her husband, 
and his aunt, Marie Ghiselin, was probably living there at this time. 



78 TURKISH LETTERS. 

had, therefore, to pursue my journey long after night- 
fall, and to gallop over a track, which hardly deserved 
the name of a road, in complete darkness, to the great 
danger of my neck. 

On my arrival at Vienna I was presented to King 
Ferdinand by John Van der Aa, a member of his 
privy council. He received me with the kindness 
which invariably marks his intercourse with those of 
whose loyalty and honesty he has formed a favourable 
opinion. He told me at great length his hopes with 
regard to me, and how important it was to his interests 
that I should accept the office of ambassador, and start 
forthwith. He informed me he had promised the 
Pasha of Buda that his ambassador should be there 
without fail by the beginning of December, and he 
was anxious there should be no want of punctuality on 
the part of his representative, lest it should furnish 
the Turks with a pretext for not fulfilling the engage- 
ments which they had undertaken in consideration of 
this promise. 

We were within twelve days of the date. There 
was barely time to make preparations for a short journey, 
and I had a long one before me. 

Even from this short space I had to deduct some 
days for a hurried visit to John Maria Malvezzi at 
Komorn, whither I went by the commands of the King, 
who considered it of great importance that I should 
have an interview with Malvezzi, and receive from his 
own lips such information and advice as he might be 
able to give me with regard to the character and dis- 
position of the Turks, inasmuch as I myself had no 
knowledge or experience of them. 

He had been for some years Ferdinand's ambas- 
sador at the court of Solyman, to which post he was 
first appointed when the Emperor Charles, for divers 



JOHN MARIA MALVEZZI. 79 

weighty reasons, negotiated a truce with the Turks 
through Gerard Veltwick ; ^ for on that occasion he had 
also made a truce with them for eight years on behalf 
of King Ferdinand. 

Now Malvezzi had been one of Veltwick 's com- 
panions, and on his return he was sent back to Con- 
stantinople by Ferdinand to act as his ambassador, in 
the hope that his presence at the Sultan's court would 
be of service in checking the raids of the Turks in the 
kingdom of Hungary, as there would be some one on 
the spot to remonstrate with Solyman with regard to 
the outrages committed by his officers, and demand 
satisfaction. 

But it happened not long after, that an opportunity, 
which Ferdinand felt he could not afford to lose, 
occurred for re-uniting Transylvania to Hungary.^ In 
this he was warmly supported by the Hungarians, who 
looked on Transylvania as an appanage of the kingdom. 
Accordingly, he came to an understanding with the 
widow and son of John the Voivode, who had formerly 
usurped the title of King of Hungary, and recovered 
Transylvania in exchange for other provinces. 

When the Turks got wind of these transactions — 
and, indeed, they could not have been kept secret^* 
Roostem, the son-in-law of Solyman and chief of the 
councillors who are called Vizierial Pashas, summoned 
Malvezzi to his presence, and asked him whether the 
news was true. He, without the slightest hesitation, 
contradicted the report, and offered, moreover, to stake 
his life on the result, and to submit to their worst 
tortures if his statement proved incorrect. But when, 

' Veltwick (Velduvic) went as ambassador to Constantinople a.d. 
1545. An account of his embassy is given in the Iter of Hugo Favolius. 
See Appendix Itineraries. 

^ For an explanation of these transactions, see Sketch of Hungarian 
History. 



8o TURKISH LETTERS. 

on Ferdinand's taking possession of the whole of 
Transylvania, the truth became clear, and further con- 
cealment was impossible, the Sultan was furious with 
Roostem for having placed so much confidence in 
Malvezzi's assurances, and Roostem was still more 
enraged with Malvezzi, and often declared that he had 
cheated him. Not to make too long a story, Malvezzi 
was thrown into prison, his goods confiscated, and 
his servants sold as slaves. In this prison he was 
kept in close custody for nearly two years. Sickness 
attacked him, and as he was not allowed to receive 
any medicines, he contracted a disease which, some 
time after, terminated his life. The Turks, in such 
matters, have no idea of moderation ; they are exces- 
sively complaisant when they wish to show their 
friendship, and excessively bitter when their anger is 
roused. But when their troubles at home made them 
desirous of peace, and their attempt to recover Tran- 
sylvania by force of arms was unsuccessful, they were 
easily induced to leave off fighting and to arrange the 
dispute by negotiation. The Turkish demand was 
that the whole of Transylvania should be restored ; but 
inasmuch as his treaty with the Voivode was the result 
neither of force nor fraud, Ferdinand ^ maintained that 
it ought not to be set aside, and declined to evacuate 
Transylvania. With a view to satisfying the Turks 
on these matters, he despatched to the Sultan's Court 
two ambassadors, in whose loyalty and zeal he had the 
greatest confidence — Antony Wranczy (or Verantius), 
Bishop of Erlau, and Francis Zay, the commander of 
the ships which the Hungarians call Nassades. On 

1 Here and elsewhere Busbecq calls Ferdinand ' Caesar.' He was not 
Emperor till 1558, but the title of Caesar belonged to him as King of the 
Romans ; so also at the end of the Fourth Turkish Letter Maximilian is 
spoken of as ' Cssar ' on his election as King of the Romans. 



MAL VEZZrS MISFORTUNES. 



their arrival Malvezzi was released from his dungeon, 
and sent back to Ferdinand with despatches from 
Solyman. Shortly after this, the King desired him to 
return to Constantinople to act as his ambassador in 
ordinary when peace should have been concluded. 
Accordingly he set out, but a fresh attack of the disease 
he had contracted during his confinement compelled 
him to stop at Komorn, a fortress v/hich lies at the 
point where the river Waag joins the Danube, and is 
our furthest outpost against the Turk. 

He felt that his end was drawing near, and wrote 
to Ferdinand, asking him to appoint some one to take 
his place as ambassador. The King did not altogether 
believe what Malvezzi said, nor, on the other hand, 
was he disposed to think it quite without foundation. 
However, he was rather inclined to suspect that his 
reason for avoiding the office of ambassador was not so 
much the severity of his attack, as the recollection of 
what he had suffered before, and the dread of what might 
be in store for him in the future ; at the same time, 
he felt that he could not in decency compel a man who 
had done good service to King and country to proceed 
on an errand for which he declared himself unfit. The 
death of Malvezzi a few months afterwards gave ample 
proof that his illness was neither an excuse nor a sham. 
The result of all this was that I became Malvezzi's 
successor ; but inasmuch as I had no experience in the 
tactics and character of the Turk, the King, as I told 
you before, thought that a visit to Malvezzi would be 
useful, since he could give me directions and sug- 
gestions as to the best method of dealing with Turkish 
chicanery. Accordingly, I spent two days with Mal- 
vezzi, and learnt as much as I could in so short a time 
of the policy to be followed and the things to be 
avoided in one's daily transactions with the Turk - 

VOL. I, G 



82 TURKISH LETTERS. 

Thence I returned to Vienna, and set to work, as hard 
as I could, to get together what I wanted for my 
journey. But there was so much business to be done, 
and the time was so short, that when the day came on 
which I had arranged to leave, I was not ready. The 
King kept pressing me to go, and I had been busy 
arranging and packing since three o'clock that morn- 
ing ; but it was with great difficulty that I managed to 
complete my preparations shortly after dusk. The 
gates of Vienna, which at that hour are locked, were 
unbolted, and I set out. 

The King had gone hunting that day ; and when 
he left he told me he felt quite sure that before he 
returned in the evening I should be on my road. And 
so I was ; but there was very little difference between 
the time of his return and of my departure. 

At eleven, p.m., we reached Fiscagmund, a 
borough town of Hungary, four miles ^ from Vienna, 
where we stopped for supper, for in our haste we had 
left Vienna supperless, and then pursued our way to- 
wards Komorn. One of the king's instructions was 
that I should get hold of one Paul Palyna at Komorn, 
who had great knowledge of the raids and robberies of 
the Turks, and take him with me to Buda ; since, if he 
were at hand to prompt me, I should find it a great 
advantage when remonstrating with the Pasha con- 
cerning the outrages, and demanding satisfaction for 
the same. But that I should start punctually appeared 
to Palyna the most unlikely thing in the world, and 
accordingly, when I arrived at Komorn, he had not yet 
left his home, and not a soul could give me any infor- 
mation as to when he was likely to arrive. I was 
intensely annoyed. I despatched a report of the matter 

' Busbecq's miles are German Stunden, each equal to about 2^ Eng- 
lish miles. 



AN ESCORT OF TURKS. 83 

to Ferdinand, and devoted the next day to waiting for 
this precious companion of mine at Koniorn. All in 
vain ; so on the third day I crossed the river Waag, 
and pursued my way towards Gran, the first fortress 
within the Turkish boundary line. 

The officer in command at Komorn, John Pax, 
had given me an escort of sixteen hussars, as the Hun- 
garians call these horsemen, with orders not to leave 
me until we came in sight of the Turkish outposts. 
The Turkish officer in command at Gran had given 
me to understand that his men would meet me mid- 
way between that town and Komorn. For three 
hours, more or less, we had advanced through a flat 
and open country, when four Turkish horsemen ap- 
peared in the distance ; my Hungarians, however, 
continued to ride with me, until at last I advised them 
to retire, fearing that, if they came nearer, some trouble- 
some breach of the peace might ensue. When the 
Turks saw me coming, they rode up, and, halting by 
my carriage, saluted me. In this manner we advanced 
a short distance, conversing with each other, for I 
had a lad who acted as interpreter. 

I was not expecting any addition to my escort, 
when suddenly, as we came to a spot a little below the 
level of the rest of the country, I found myself sur- ' 
rounded by a troop of 1 50 horsemen, or thereabouts. 
I had never seen such a sight before, and I was de- 
lighted with the gay colours of their shields and spears, 
their jewelled scimitars, their many-coloured plumes, 
their turbans of the purest white, their robes of purple 
and dark green, their gallant steeds and superb ac- 
coutrements. 

The officers ride up, give me a courteous welcome, 
congratulate me on my arrival, and ask whether I have 
had a pleasant journey. I reply in terms befitting the 

G 3 



84 TURKISH LETTERS. 

occasion, and so they escort me to Gran, which con- 
sists of a fort situated on a hill, at the foot of which 
flows the Danube, and a town hard by on the plain, 
where I take up my quarters. The archbishop of this 
place stands first among the nobles of Hungary both 
in rank and wealth. My lodging had more of the 
camp than the city. Instead of beds there were planks 
covered with coarse woollen rugs ; there were no 
mattresses, no linen. And so my attendants had their 
first taste of Turkish luxury ! As for myself, I had 
brought my bed with me. 

Next day the Sanjak-bey in command of the place 
repeatedly urged me to visit him. This is the title 
which the Turks give to an officer in command ; and 
the name comes from the sanjak,^ or standard, which is 
carried in front of his squadron of cavalry ; it consists 
of a lance, on the top of which is a brass ball plated over 
with gold. I had no despatches or commission for this 
officer, but he was so persistent that I had to go. It 
turned out that all he wanted was to see me, to go 
through some civilities, ask my errand, urge me to pro- 
mote a peace, and wish me a prosperous journey. On 
my way to his quarters I was surprised to hear the frogs 
croaking, although it was December and the weather 
was cold. The phenomenon was explained by the ex- 
istence of some pools formed by hot sulphur springs. 

I left Gran after a breakfast, which had to serve for 
a dinner as well, as there was no resting-place between 
it and Buda. 

In spite of my entreaties that he would spare him- 
self the trouble of paying me so great an attention, the 

- Busbecq's explanation is correct. The word may possibly be a 
corruption of the Latin signum. It is now apphed to the district which 
was formerly governed by a Sanjak-bey, i.e., Lord of the standard. 
Busbecq writes the word Singiaccus, Von Hammer uses the form San- 
djak, while Creasy prefers Sanjak, 



^ 



THE PASHA OF BUD A. 85 

Sanjak-bey must needs escort me with all his house- 
hold, and the cavalry under his command. As the 
horsemen poured out of the gates they engaged in 
mimic warfare, and also performed several feats, one 
of which was to throw a ball on the ground, and to 
carry it off on the lance's point when at full gallop. 
Among the troopers was a Tartar with long thick hair, 
and I was told that he never wore any other covering 
on his head than that which nature afforded, either to 
protect him against weather in a storm, or arrows in a 
battle. When the Sanjak-bey considered that he had 
gone far enough, we exchanged greetings, and he re- 
turned home, leaving an escort to conduct me to Buda. 

As I drew near to the city I was met by a few 
Turks, who were by profession cavasses. These 
cavasses act as officials, and execute the orders of the 
Sultan and Pashas. The position of cavasse is con- 
sidered by the Turks to be one of high honour. 

I was conducted to the house of a Hungarian gen- 
tleman, where, I declare, my luggage, carriage, and 
horses were better treated than their owner. The 
first thing the Turks attend to is to get carriages, 
horses, and luggage into safe quarters ; as for human 
beings they think they have done quite enough for them, 
if they are placed beyond the reach of wind and weather. 

The Pasha, whose name was Touighoun (which, by 
the way, signifies a stork in Turkish), sent a person to 
wait on me and pay me his respects, and asked me to 
excuse him from giving me audience for several days, 
on account of a severe illness from which he was 
suffering, and assured me that he would attend to me 
as soon as his health permitted. 

This circumstance prevented my business from 
suffering at all by Palyna's delay, and enabled him 
also to escape the charge of wilful negligence. For 



TURKISH LETTERS. 



he used all diligence to reach me in time, and shortly 
afterwards made his appearance. 

The illness of the Pasha detained me at Buda for 
a considerable time. The popular belief was that he 
had fallen sick from chagrin on receiving the news 
that a large hoard of his, which he had buried in some 
corner, had been stolen. He was generally supposed 
to be an arrant miser. Well, when he heard that I 
had with me William Quacquelben, a man of great 
learning and a most skilful physician, he earnestly de- 
sired me to send him to prescribe for his case. I 
made no objection to this proposal, but my consent 
was like to have cost me dear ; for when the Pasha 
gradually got worse, and a fatal termination to his 
illness seemed probable, I was in great alarm lest, if he 
joined his Mahomet in Paradise'l the Turks should 
accuse my physician of murdering him, to the danger 
of my excellent friend, and my own great disgrace as 
an accomplice. But, by God's mercy, the Pasha re- 
covered, and my anxiety was set at rest. 

At Buda I made my first acquaintance with the 
Janissaries ; this is the name by which the Turks call 
the infantry of the royal guard. The Turkish state 
has 1 2,000 of these troops when the corps is at its full 
strength. They are scattered through every part of 
the empire, either to garrison the forts against the 
enemy, or to protect the Christians and Jews from the 
violence of the mob. There is no district with any 
considerable amount of population, no borough or city, 
which has not a detachment of Janissaries to protect 
the Christians, Jews, and other helpless people from 
outj-age and wrong. 

A garrison of Janissaries is always stationed in the 
citadel of Buda. The dress of these men consists of a 
robe reaching down to the ankles, while, to cover their 



JANISSARIES. 87 



heads, they employ a cowl which, by their account, was 
originally a cloak sleeve,^ part of which contains the 
head, while the remainder hangs down and flaps 
against the neck. On their forehead is placed a silver- 
gilt cone of considerable height, studded with stones 
of no great value. 

These Janissaries generally came to me in pairs. 
When they were admitted to my dining room they 
first made a bow, and then came quickly up to me, all 
but running, and touched my dress or hand, as if 
they intended to kiss it. After this they would thrust 
into my hand a nosegay of the hyacinth or nar- 
cissus ; then they would run back to the door almost 
as quickly as they came, taking care not to turn their 
backs, for this, according to their code, would be a 
serious breach of etiquette. After reaching the door, 
they would stand respectfully with their arms crossed, 
and their eyes bent on the ground, looking more like 
monks than warriors. On receiving a few small coins 
(which was what they wanted) they bowed again, 
thanked me in loud tones, and went off blessing me 
for my kindness. To tell you the truth, if I had not 

1 See Creasy, History of the Ottoman Turks, chap. ii. : ' The name 
of Yeni Tscheri, which means "new troops," and which European 
writers have turned into Janissaries, was given to Orchan's young corps 
by the Dervish Hadji Beytarch. This Dervish was renowned for sanc- 
tity ; and Orchan, soon after he had enrolled his first band of invo- 
luntary boyish proselytes, led them to the dwelling-place of the saint, 
and asked him to give them his blessing and a name. The Dervish 
drew the sleeve of his mantle over the head of one in the first rank, and 
then said to the Sultan, " The troops which thou hast created shall be 
called Yeni Tscheri. Their faces shall be white and shining, their right 
arms shall be strong, their sabres shall be keen, and their arrows sharp. 
They shall be fortunate in fight, and shall never leave the battle field 
save as conquerors." In memory of that benediction the Janissaries 
ever wore as part of their uniform a cap of white felt like that of the 
Dervish, with a strip of woollen hanging down behind, to represent the 
sleeve of the holy man's mantle, that had been laid on their comrade's 
neck.' See also Gibbon, chap. Ixiv. 



TURKISH LETTERS. 



been told beforehand that they were Janissaries, I 
should, without hesitation, have taken them for mem- 
bers of some order of Turkish monks, or brethren of 
some Moslem college. Yet these are the famous 
Janissaries, whose approach inspires terror everywhere. 
During my stay at Buda a good many Turks were 
drawn to my table by the attractions of my wine, a 
luxury in which they have not many opportunities of 
indulging. The effect of this enforced abstinence is to 
make them so eager for drink, that they swill them- 
selves with it whenever they get the chance. I asked 
them to make a night of it, but at last I got tired of 
the game, left the table, and retired to my bedroom. 
On this my Turkish guests made a move to go, and 
great was their grief as they reflected that they were 
not yet dead drunk, and could still use their legs. 
Presently they sent a servant to request that I would 
allow them access to my stock of wine and lend them 
some silver cups. ' With my permission,' they said 
• they would like to continue their drinking bout 
through the night ; they were not particular where 
they sat ; any odd corner would do for them ' Well I 
ordered them to be furnished with as much wine as they 
could drmk, and also with the cups they asked for 
Bemg thus supplied, the fellows never left off drinkino- 
until they were one and all stretched on the floor iS 
the last stage of intoxication. 

To drink wine is considered a great sin among the 
Turks, especially in the case of persons advanced in 
lite :_ when younger people indulge in it the offence is 
considered more venial. Inasmuch, however, as thev 
thmk that they will have to pay the same penalty after 
death whether they drink much or little, if they taste 
one drop of wine they must needs indulge in a 
regular debauch ; their notion being that, inasmuch as 



HARD DRINKERS AMONG THE TURKS. 

they have already incurred the penalty, appointed . 
such sin, in another world, it will be an advantage i 
them to have their sin out, and get dead drunk, since it 
will cost them as much in either case. These are their 
ideas about drinking, and they have some other notions 
which are still more ridiculous. I saw an old gentleman 
at Constantinople who, before taking up his cup, shouted 
as loud as he could. I asked my friends the reason, 
and they told me he was shouting to warn his soul to 
stow itself away in some odd corner of his body, or to 
leave it altogether, lest it should be defiled by the wine 
he was about to drink, and have hereafter to answer for 
the offence which the worthy man meant to indulge in. 
I shall not have time to give you a full description 
of the good town of Buda, but that I may not pass it 
over altogether, I will give you a sketch of such sort 
as is suitable for a letter, though it would not be suffi- 
cient for a book. The town is built on the side of 
a hill, in a most delightful situation, the country around 
being rich and fertile. On the one side it is bordered 
by vine-clad hills, and on the other it commands a view 
of the Danube, as it flows past its walls, with Pesth 
beyond, and the broad fields on the other side of the 
river. Well might this town be selected as the royal 
capital of Hungary. In past times it was adorned with 
the magnificent palaces of the Hungarian nobility, some 
of which have fallen down, while others are only kept 
from falling by a liberal use of props and stays. The 
inmates of these mansions are generally Turkish sol- 
diers, who, as their daily pay is all they have to live 
on, can spare nothing for the purpose of mending the 
walls or patching the roofs of these vast buildings. 
Accordingly, they do not take it to heart if the roof 
lets in rain or the wall cracks, provided they can find a 
dry spot to stable their horses and make their own 



90 TURKISH LETTERS. 

bed. As to the chambers above, they think it is no 
concern of theirs ; so they leave the rats and mice in 
full enjoyment of them. Another reason for this 
negligence is that it is part of the Turkish creed to 
avoid display in the matter of buildings ; they consider 
that a man proves himself a conceited fellow, who 
utterly misunderstands his position, if he aims at having 
a pretentious house, for he shows thereby, according to 
their notion, that he expects himself and his house to 
last for ever. They profess to use houses as travellers 
use inns, and if their habitations protect them from 
robbers, give them warmth and shade, and keep off 
rain, they want nothing more. Through the whole of 
Turkey it would be hard to find a house, however exalted 
or rich its owner may be, built with the slightest 
regard to elegance. Everyone lives in a hut or cot- 
tage. The great people are fond of fine gardens and 
sumptuous baths, and take care to have roomy houses 
to accommodate their retinues ; but in these you never 
see a bright verandah, or a hall worth looking at, nor 
does any sign of grandeur attract one's attention. The 
Hungarians also follow the same practice, for with the 
exception of Buda, and perhaps Presburg, you will 
scarcely find a city in the whole of Hungary con- 
taining buildings of any pretension whatever. For 
my own part, I believe that this is a very old habit 
of theirs, and arises from the circumstance that the 
Hungarians are a warlike nation, accustomed to camp 
life and expeditions far from home, and so, when they 
lived in a city, they did so as men who must shordy 
leave it. 

Whilst at Buda I was much struck with a spring 
which I saw outside the gate on the road to Constanti- 
nople. The surface of the water was boiling hot, but 
at the bottom you could see fish swimming about, so 



THE PASHA'S DILEMMA. 91 

that, if they were caught, you might expect them to 
come out ready boiled ! 

At length, on December 7, the Pasha was ready to 
receive me. I gave him a present with a view to 
securing his favour, and then proceeded to complain 
of the arrogance and misdeeds of the Turkish soldiers. 
I demanded the restitution of the places which had been 
taken from us in violation of the truce, and which he 
had undertaken in his letters to restore to my master 
on his sending an ambassador. The Pasha replied 
with complaints as heavy as mine about the losses and 
injuries he had sustained at the hands of our people. 
As to restoring the places, he took refuge in the 
following dilemma : — ' I,' said he, ' either did not 
promise to restore these places, or I did promise to 
restore them. In the former case, I am not bound to 
restore them ; while in the latter case, a man of your 
intelligence must comprehend that I made a promise 
which I have neither the right nor the power to keep ; 
for my master has assigned me the duty of enlarging 
his dominion, not of diminishing it ; and I have no 
right to impair his estate. Remember it is his interest 
that is in question, not mine. When you see him you 
can ask him for whatever you like.' He concluded by 
remarking that ' it was very wrong of me to bother a 
man still weak from illness with a long discourse about 
nothing.' 

When he had delivered this decision with the air 
of a judge, I had leave to go. All I gained by my 
interview was the conclusion of a truce until an answer 
should be brought back from Solyman. 

I observed, when we were presented to the Pasha, 
that they kept up the custom of the ancient Romans, 
who put in the word ' feliciter ' at the end of their 
speech, and used words of good omen. I noticed also 



92 TURKISH LETTERS. 



that in most cases the left-hand side was considered 
the more honourable. The reason they assign for 
this is that the sword confers honour on that side, for 
if a man stands on the right, he has in a certain sense 
his sword under the hand of the man who flanks him 
on the left ; while the latter, of course, would have his 
sword free and disencumbered. 

Our business at Buda being thus concluded, in so 
far as we were able to accomplish it, my companion 
returned to the King, while I, with my horses, carriages, 
and ^ people, embarked on some vessels which were 
waiting for us, and sailed down the Danube towards 
Belgrade. This route was not only safer than that by 
land, but also occupied less time, for encumbered as 1 
was with baggage, I should have been twelve days at 
the very least on the road, and there would also have 
been danger of an attack from Heydons— for so the 
Himgarians call the banditti who have left their flocks 
and herds to become half soldiers, half brigands. By 
the river route there was no fear of Heydons, and the 
passage occupied five days. 

The vessel on board which I sailed was towed by 
a tug manned by twenty-four oarsmen ; the other 
boats were pulled along by a pair of sweeps. With 
the exception of a few hours during which the wretched 
galley-slaves and the crew took food and rest, we 
travelled incessantly. I was much impressed on' this 
occasion with the rashness of the Turks, for they had 
no hesitation in continuing their voyage during the 
night, though there was no moon and it was "quite 
dark, amid a gale of wind. We often, to our very 
great danger, encountered mills and trunks and branches 
of trees projecting from the banks, so that it frequently 
happened that the boat was caught by the gale and 
came crashing on to the stumps and branches which 



BELGRADE. 93 



lined the river side. On such occasions it seemed to 
me that we were on the point of going to pieces. 
Once, indeed, there was a great crash, and part of the 
deck was carried away. I jumped out of bed, and 
begged the crew to be more careful. Their only 
answer was ' Alaure,' that is, ' God will help us ; ' and 
so I was left to get back to my bed and my nap — if I 
could ! I will venture to make one prophecy, and that 
is, that this mode of sailing will one day bring about a 
disaster. 

On our voyage I saw Tolna, a Hungarian borough 
of some importance, which deserves special mention for 
its excellent white wine and the civility of the people. 
I saw also Fort Valpovar, which stands on high 
ground, as well as other castles and towns ; nor did I 
fail to notice the points at which the Drave on the one 
side, and the Theiss on the other, flow into the 
Danube. Belgrade itself lies at the confluence of the 
Save and Danube, and at the apex of the angle where 
these streams join, the old city is still standing ; it is 
built in an antiquated style, and fortified with numerous 
towers and a double wall. On two sides it is washed 
by the rivers I mentioned, while on the third side, 
which unites it to the land, it has a citadel of con- 
siderable strength, placed on an eminence, consisting 
of several lofty towers built of squared stone. 

In front of the city are very large suburbs, built 
without any regard to order. These are inhabited by 
people of different nations — Turks, Greeks, Jews, 
Hungarians, Dalmatians, and many more. 

Indeed, throughout the Turkish Empire the 
suburbs, as a rule, are larger than the towns, and 
suburbs and town together give the idea of a very 
considerable place. This was the first point at which 
I met with ancient coins, of which, as you know, I am 



94 TURKISH LETTERS. 



very fond, and I find William Quacquelben, whom I 
mentioned before, a most admirable and devoted 
fellow-student in this hobby of mine. 

We found several coins, on one side of which was a 
Roman soldier standing between a bull and a horse, 
with the inscription ' Taurunum.' It, is a well-ascer- 
tained fact that the legions of Upper Mcesia were 
quartered here. 

Twice in the days of our grandfathers great efforts 
were made to take Belgrade, on the first occasion by 
Amurath, and on the second by Mahomet, the captor 
of Constantinople. But the efforts of the barbarians 
were on both occasions baffled by the gallant defence 
of the Hungarians and the champions of the Cross. 

It was not till the year 1 520 that Belgrade was taken. 
Solyman, who had just ascended the throne, advanced 
against the city with powerful forces. He found it in 
a weak state, the garrison not having been kept at its 
proper strength, owing to the neglect of the young 
King Louis and the feuds of the Hungarian nobles ; 
consequently he made himself master of the city with- 
out much loss. We can now see clearly that Belgrade 
was the door of Hungary, and that it was not till this 
gate was forced that the tide of Turkish barbarism 
burst into this unhappy country. The loss of Belgrade 
entailed the death of Louis ^ on the battle-field, the 
capture of Buda, the enthralment of Transylvania, and 
the utter prostration of a flourishing realm, amid the 
alarm of neighbouring kingdoms lest their turn should 
come next. The loss of Belgrade ought to be a warn- 
ing to the Princes of Christendom that they, as they 
love their safety, should take the utmost possible care 
of their forts and strongholds. For the Turks re- 
semble in this point great rivers swollen by the rains ; 

' At Mohacz, A.D. 1526. See Sketch of Hungarian History. 



A SERVIAN FUNERAL. 95 

if they can burst their banks in any single place, they 
pour through the breach and carry destruction far and 
wide. In yet more fearful fashion do the Turkish 
hordes, when once they have burst the barriers in 
their path, carry far and wide their unparalleled de- 
vastations. 

But we must now return to Belgrade, with full 
purpose to make our way straight to Constantinople. 
Having procured in the city what we thought needful 
for our journey by road, leaving Semendria, formerly a 
stronghold of the Despots ^ of Servia, on our left, we 
commenced our journey towards Nissa. When we 
came to high ground the Turks showed us the snow- 
capped mountains of Transylvania in the distance, and 
they also pointed out by means of signs the place near 
which some of the piles of Trajan's bridge may still 
be seen.^ 

Aftei" crossing a river, called Morava by the natives, 
we took up our lodgings in a village named Jagodin, 
where we had an opportunity of seeing the funeral 
ceremonies of the country, which are very different 
from ours. The body was laid in a chapel, with its 
face uncovered, and by it was placed food in the shape 
of bread and meat and a cup of wine ; the wife stood 
by the side, and also the daughter, dressed in their 
best clothes ; the latter wore a head-dress of pea- 
cock's feathers. The last present which the wife made 
to her husband, after he had been waked, was a 

• The Princes of Servia were styled Despots in Greek, and Cral in 
their native idiom. See Gibbon, chap. Ixiii. note. 

' 'A little below Orsova the Danube issues from the Iron Gate, and 
at a village called Severin, where it expands to a width of 1,300 yards, 
the foundations of the piers, corresponding in number with the statement 
of the historian, have been seen when the water was more than usually 
low. Here, then, as is now generally agreed, stood the bridge of Trajan's 
architect, Apollodorus.' — Merivale, History of the Romans ^ chap. Ixiii. 



96 TURKISH LETTERS. 

purple cap of the kind that young ladies wear in that 
country. 

Then we heard wailing and crying and complain- 
ing, as they asked the dead man ' What they had 
done that he should desert them ? Had they in any 
way failed in showing submission to him or in 
ministering to his comfort ? Why did he leave them 
to loneliness and misery ? ' &c. &c. The religious 
ceremonies were conducted by priests of the Greek 
Church. I noticed in the burial-ground a great many 
wooden figures of stags, fawns, &c., placed on the top 
of posts or poles. On inquiring the reason, I was 
informed that the husbands or fathers placed these 
monuments as memorials of the readiness and care 
with which the wives and daughters had discharged 
their domestic duties. On many of the tombs were 
hanging tresses of hair, which the women and girls 
had placed there to show their grief for the loss of 
relations. We heard also that it was the custom in 
these parts, when the elders had arranged a marriage 
between a young man and a young woman, for the 
bridegroom to seize his wife by force and carry her off 
According to their ideas, it would be highly in- 
delicate for the girl to be a consenting party to the 
arrangement. 

Not far from Jagodin we came to a little stream, 
which the inhabitants call Nissus. This we kept on 
our right, skirting its bank until we came to Nissa 
(Nisch). Some way on, we found on the bank (where 
the traces of an old Roman road still remained) a little 
marble pillar with a Latin inscription, but so mutilated 
as to be undecipherable. Nissa is a small town of 
some account, to which the people of the country often 
resort. 

I must now tell you something as to the inns we 



A CARAVANSERAI. 97 

make use of, for that is a subject on which you have 
been some time wanting information. At Nissa I 
lodged in the pubUc inn, called by the Turks a cara- 
vanserai — the most common kind of inn in those parts. 
It consists of a huge building, the length of which 
somewhat exceeds the breadth. In the centre is an 
open space, where the camels and their baggage, as 
well as the mules and waggons, have to be quartered. 

This open space is surrounded by a wall about three 
feet high, and this is bonded into the outer wall sur- 
rounding the whole building. The top of the former 
is level, and about four feet broad. This ledge serves 
the Turks for bedroom and dining-room, and kitchen 
as well, for here and there fireplaces are built into the 
outer wall, which I told you encloses the whole build- 
ing. So they sleep, eat, and cook on this ledge, three 
feet high and four feet broad ; and this is the only 
distinction between their quarters and those of the 
camels, horses, and other beasts of burden. 

Moreover, they have their horses haltered at the 
foot of the ledge, so that their heads and necks come 
right over it ; and as their masters warm themselves 
or take their supper, the creatures stand by like so 
many lackeys, and sometimes are given a crust or 
apple from their master's hand. On the ledge they 
also make their beds ; first they spread out the rug 
which they carry for that purpose behind their saddles, 
on this they put a cloak, while the saddle supplies 
them with a pillow. A robe, lined with skins, and 
reaching to the ankles furnishes their dress by day and 
their blanket at night. And so when they lie down 
they have no luxuries wherewith to provoke sleep to 
come to them. 

In these inns there is no privacy whatever; every- 
thing is done in public, and the only curtain to shield 

VOL. I. H 



98 TURKISH LETTERS. 

one from people's eyes is such as may be afforded by 
the darkness of the night. 

I was excessively disgusted with these inns, for all 
the Turks were staring at us, and wondering at our 
ways and customs, so I always did my best to get a 
lodging with some poor Christian ; but their huts are so 
narrow that oftentimes there was not room enough for a 
bed, and so I had to sleep sometimes in a tent and 
sometimes in my carriage. On certain occasions I got 
lodged in a Turkish hostel. These hostels are fine 
convenient buildings, with separate bedrooms, and no 
one is refused admittance, whether he be Christian or 
Jew, whether he be rich or a beggar. The doors are 
open to all alike. They are made use of by the 
pashas and sanjak-beys when they travel. The 
hospitality which I met with in these places appeared 
to me worthy of a royal palace. It is the custom to 
furnish food to each individual who lodges there, and 
so, when supper-time came, an attendant made his 
appearance with a huge wooden platter as big as a 
table, in the middle of which was a dish of barley 
porridge and a bit of meat. Around the dish were 
loaves, and sometimes a little honey in the comb. 

At first I had some delicacy in accepting it, and 
told the man that my own supper was being got ready, 
and that he had better give what he had brought to 
people who were really in want. The attendant, how- 
ever, would take no denial, expressed a hope ' that I 
would not despise their slender fare,' told me 'that even 
pashas received this dole, it was the custom of the 
place, and there was plenty more for supplying the 
wants of the poor. If I did not care for it myself 
I might leave it for my servants.' He thus obliged 
me to accept it, lest I should seem ungracious. So I 
used to thank whoever brought it, and sometimes took 



SLEEPING IN A STABLE. 99 

a mouthful or two. It was not at all bad. I can assure 
you that barley porridge is a very palatable food, and 
it is, moreover, recommended by Galen ^ as extremely 
wholesome. 

Travellers are allowed to enjoy this hospitality for 
three full days ; when these have expired, they must 
change their hostel. In these places I found, as I 
have already told you, most convenient lodgings, but 
they were not to be met with everywhere. 

Sometimes, if I could not get a house to lodge in, 
I spent the night in a cattle shed. I used to look out for 
a large and roomy stable ; in one part of it there would 
be a regular fire-place, while the other part was assigned 
to the sheep and oxen. It is the fashion, you must 
know, for the sheep and the shepherd to live under 
the same roof. 

My plan was to screen off the part where the fire 
was with my tent hangings, put my table and bed by 
the fire side, and there I was as happy as a king. In 
the other part of the stable my servants took their 
ease in plenty of good clean straw, while some fell 
asleep by the bonfire which they were wont to make in 

' Galen, the great physician, who flourished in the second century of 
our era. Busbecq's alkision to him is quite in accordance with the 
fashion of his day. See Ranke's Civil Wars and Monarchy in France, 
Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, chap. xix. ' Peter de la Ramde 
wished to forsake in all things the path hitherto trodden, to alter the 
entire system of doctors and professors in the university, and to make 
the works of the ancients the immediate text-books of the different 
branches of study, — the codex of the civil law in jurisprudence, Galen 
and Hippocrates in medicine, and in theology the Old and New Testa- 
ments. . . . Physicians arose who brought into practice once more the 
deserted rules of Hippocrates ; and it soon went so far, as Ambrose Pare, 
the reformer of surgery, said, that people were not content with what 
they found in the ancients, but began to regard their writings as watch- 
towers, from which more might be discovered.' For Busbecq's applica- 
tion of these principles see the Life. 

H 2 



100 TURKISH LETTERS. 



an orchard or meadow hard by, for the purpose of 
cooking our food. By means of the fire they were 
able to withstand the cold ; and, as to keeping it burn- 
ing, no vestal virgin at Rome was ever more careful 
than they. I dare say you will wonder how I managed 
to console my people for their bad lodgings. You will 
surmise that wine, the usual remedy for bad nights, is 
not easily found in the heart of Turkey. This is quite 
true. It is not in every district that you can get wine, 
and this is especially the case in places where Chris- 
tians do not live. For ofttimes, getting wearied of 
Turkish insolence, they leave the neighbourhood of 
the high road, and take refuge in pathless wilds, where 
the land is poorer, and they themselves are safer, leav- 
ing their conquerors in possession of the more fertile 
spots. When we drew near to such places, the Turks 
warned us that we should find no wine there, and we 
then despatched a caterer the day before under the escort 
of a Turk, to obtain a supply from the neighbouring 
Christian districts. So my people did not lack this 
solace of their hardships. To them wine supplied the 
place of feather beds and bolsters, and every other 
comfort that induces sleep. As for myself, I had in 
my carriage some flasks of excellent wine, which sup- 
plied my own private table. 

I have now told you how I and my people provided 
ourselves with wine ; but we had one hardship almost 
worse than want of wine, and this was the dreadful 
way in which our nights were broken. Sometimes, in 
order to reach a good halting-place betimes, it was 
necessary to rise very early, while it was still dark. 
On these occasions it not unfrequently happened that 
our Turkish guides mistook the moonlight for the 
approach of dawn, and proceeded to wake us soon after 
midnight in a most noisy fashion. For the Turks, you 



TURKS AND TIMEPIKCES. toi 



must know, have neither hours to mark their time, 
nor milestones to mark their roads. 

They have professional people, called talismans, 
set apart for the service of their mosques, who use a 
water-glass ; and when these talismans know that morn- 
ing is at hand, they utter a cry from a lofty minaret 
built for that special purpose, in order to call and invite 
the people to the performance of their devotions. They 
utter the same cry when one quarter of the day has 
elapsed, at midday, again when three quarters of the 
day are over, and, last of all, at sunset ; each time 
repeating the cry in shrill quavering tones, the effect of 
which is not unpleasing, and the sound can be heard at 
a distance that would astonish you. 

Thus the Turks divide their day into four portions, 
which are longer or shorter according to the season. 
They have no method for marking time during the night. 

But to return to my subject. Our guides, deceived 
by the brightness of the moon, were wont to give the 
signal for striking camp when the day was yet far dis- 
tant. Up we jumped in haste, for fear of causing any 
delay, or being blamed for any misadventure that 
might ensue. Our baggage was got together, the bed 
and tents thrown into the waggon, our horses har- 
nessed, and we ourselves stood ready and equipped, 
waiting for the signal to start. Meanwhile, our Turks 
had found out their mistake, and turned into bed for 
another sleep. 

When we had waited some time for them in vain, I 
would send a message to tell them that we were quite 
ready, and that the delay rested with them. My mes- 
sengers brought back word that 'the Turks had re- 
turned to their bedclothes, and vowed that they had 
been atrociously deceived by the moon when they gave 
the signal for starting ; it was not yet time to set out, 



102 TURKISH LETTERS. 



and we had much better all go to sleep again.' The 
consequence was that we had either to unpack every- 
thing at the cost of considerable labour, or to spend a 
good part of the night shivering in the cold. To put 
a stop to this annoyance, I ordered the Turks not to 
trouble me again, and promised to be responsible for 
our being up in good time, if they would tell me the 
day before, when we ought to start, assuring them that 
' I could manage it, as I had watches that could be 
trusted ; they might continue their slumbers,' I added, 
'relying on me to have the camp roused at the pro- 
per time.' 

My Turks agreed, but were not quite comfortable 
about it ; so at first they would come early, and wake 
up my servant, bidding him go to me, and ask what 
the fingers of my timepieces said. On his return he 
would tell them, as best he could, what the time was, 
informing them that it was nearly morning, or that the 
sun would not rise for some time, as the case might be. 
When they had once or twice proved the truth of his 
report, they trusted the watches implicitly, and ex- 
pressed their admiration at their accuracy. Thence- 
forward we were allowed to enjoy our night's rest 
without having it cut short by their uproar. 

On our way from Nissa to Sophia we had fair 
roads and good weather, considering the season of 
the year. Sophia is a good-sized town, with a con- 
siderable population both of residents and visitors. 
Formerly it was the royal city of the Bulgarians ; after- 
wards (unless I am mistaken) it was the seat of the 
Despots of Servia, whilst the dynasty still existed, and 
had not yet succumbed to the power of the Turk. 
After quitting Sophia we travelled for several days 
through fruitful fields and pleasant valleys, belonging 
to the Bulrarians. 



BULGARIAN WOMEN. 103 



The bread we used through this part of our expe- 
dition was, for the most part, baked under ashes. The 
people call these loaves ' fugacias : ' they are sold by the 
girls and women, for there are no professional bakers 
in that district. When the women hear of the arrival 
of strangers, from whom they may expect to earn a 
trifle, they knead cakes of meal and water without 
any leaven, and put them under the hot ashes. When 
baked they carry them round for sale at a small price, 
still hot from the hearth. Other eatables are also very 
cheap. A sheep costs thirty-five aspres,^ a fowl costs 
one; and fifty aspres make a crown. I must not 
forget to tell you of the dress of the women. Usually, 
their sole garment consists of a shirt or chemise of 
linen, quite as coarse as the cloth sacks are made of in 
our country, covered with needlework designs, of the 
most absurd and childish character, in different colours. 
However, they think themselves excessively fine ; and 
when they saw our shirts— the texture of which was 
excellent— they expressed their surprise that we should 
be contented with plain linen instead of having worked 
and coloured shirts. But nothing struck us more than 
their towering head-dresses and singular bonnets— If 
bonnets they can be called. They are made of 
straw, woven with threads ; the shape is exacdy the 
reverse of that which is usually worn by our women in 
country districts ; for their bonnets fall down on the 
shoulders, and are broadest at the lowest part, from 
which they gradually slope up into a peak. Whereas, 
in Bulgaria the bonnet is narrowest at the lowest part ; 
above the head it rises in a coil about three-quarters of 
a foot ; it is open at the top, and presents a large cavity 

1 An ' aspre ' or ' asper ' is still the lowest coin in Turkey. At the 
present rate of exchange a penny is worth nearly 100 aspres, but in 
Busbecq's time the Turkish coinage had a considerably higher value. 



i°4 TURKISH LETTERS. 



towards the sky, so that it seems expressly made for the 
purpose of catching the rain and the sun, just as ours 
are made for the purpose of keeping them off. 

The whole of the bonnet, from the upper to the 
lower rim, is ornamented with coins and figures, 
bits of coloured glass, and anything else that glitters, 
however rubbishy it may be. 

This kind of bonnet makes the wearer look tall, 
and also obliges her to carry herself with dignity, as it 
is ready to tumble off at the slightest touch. When 
they enter a room you might imagine it was a Clytem- 
nestra,^ or Hecuba such as she was in the palmy days 
of Troy, that was marching on to the stage. 

I had here an instance of the fickleness and instability 
of that which, in the world's opinion, constitutes no- 
bility. For when, on noticing some young women, whose 
persons had an air of better breeding than the rest, I 
inquired whether they belonged to some high family, 
I was told that they were descended from great Bul- 
garian princes, and, in some cases, even from royal 
ancestors, but were now married to herdsmen and shep- 
herds. So little value is attached to high birth in the 
Turkish realm. I saw also, in other places, descen- 
dants of the imperial families of the Cantacuzeni^ and 

' See Ranke's Civil Wars and Monarchy in France, Sixteenth and 
Seventeenth Ce?tturies, chap. xiv. 'As he (the Prince of Condd) had dis- 
tinguished himself by his bravery in the held, he now desired to shine 
through his versatihty, by taking part in the knightly festivities of the 
court, in which it was the fashion to represent the heroic fables of the 
Greeks: It would seem that it was the fashion in high circles to appear 
on certain occasions in the dress and character of Greek heroes and 
heroines. 

^ John Cantacuzenus became Emperor 1341, and abdicated 1354. 
His son Matthew was associated with him. His descendants have given 
many princes to Moldavia and Wallachia. The Pateologi held the 
Empire 1282-1453 (see Gibbon, chap. Ixii., and following chapters). 
Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, when banished from his kingdom became 
a schoolmaster at Corinth, 



BALDWIN, COUNT OF FLANDERS. 105 

Palaeologi, whose position among the Turks was 
lower than that of Dionysius at Corinth. For the 
Turks do not measure even their own people by any 
other rule than that of personal merit. The only 
exception is the house of Othman ; in this case, and in 
this case only, does birth confer distinction. 

It is supposed that the Bulgarians,^ at a time when 
many tribes were migrating of their own accord or 
under compulsion, left the Scythian river Volga to 
settle here, and that they are called Bulgarians (an 
equivalent for Volgarians) from that river. 

They established themselves on the Balkan range, 
between Sophia and Philippopolis, in a position of great 
natural strength, and here they long defied the power 
of the Greek Emperors. 

When Baldwin^ the elder. Count of Flanders, gained 
possession of the imperial throne, they took him 
prisoner in a skirmish, and put him to death. They 
were not able to withstand the power of the Turks, 
who conquered them, and subjected them to their 
heavy yoke. They use the language of the lUyrians, 
as do the Servians and Rascians.^ 

^ See Freeman's Essays, Series iii. p. 418. 'The Bulgarian land on 
the Volga — Great Bulgaria — kept its name long after the New or Black 
Bulgaria arose on the Danube. It remained Turanian ; it became 
Mahometan ; it flourished as a Mahometan state, till in the 15th century, 
it yielded to the advance of Russia, and gave the Russian Czar one of his 
endless titles.' Mr. Freeman here quotes 17 TraXai KaXovfiivr] /ieydXr/ BovX- 
yapia from Theophanes. This is an oversight, the words are not taken 
from Theophanes, though he uses a similar expression, but from Nice- 
phorus of Constantinople. 

" Baldwin, tenth Count of Flanders, was elected Emperor 1204, and 
taken captive by Bulgarians 1205. He died a prisoner, but that he was 
put to death is by no means certain. He was succeeded by his son 
Baldwin, eleventh Count and second Emperor of that name. See 
Gibbon, chap. Ixi. Busbecq would naturally take great interest in the 
Sovereign of his ancestors. 

^ The Rascians and Servians were distinct tribes in Busbecq's time 
and long afterwards ; see page 163, where he notices that at Semendria the 



io6 TURKISH LETTERS. 

In order to descend to the level country in front of 
Philippopolis it is necessary to cross the mountain by a 
very rough pass. This pass the Turks call ' Capi 
Dervent ' ' — that is to say, The Narrow Gate. On 
this plain the traveller soon meets with the Hebrus, 
which rises at no great distance in Mount Rhodope. 
Before we had crossed the pass I mentioned above, we 
had a good view of the summit of Rhodope, which 
stood out cold and clear with its snowy covering. 
The inhabitants, if I am not mistaken, call the moun- 
tain Rulla. From it, as Pliny tells us, flows the 
Hebrus, a fact generally known from the couplet of 
Ovid :— 

' Qu4 patet umbrosum Rhodope glacialis ad Hsemum, 
Et sacer amissas exigit Hebrus aquas.' 

In this passage the poet seems to refer to the 
river's want of depth and its scant supply of water ; 
for though a great and famous stream, it is full of 
shallows. I remember, on my return, crossing the 
Hebrus by a ford close to Philippopolis, in order to 
reach an island, where we slept under canvas. But 
the river rose during the night, and we had great 
difficulty next day in recrossing and regaining our 
road. 

There are three hills which look as if they had 
been torn away from the rest of the range. On one 
of these Philippopolis is situated, crowning the summit 
Avith its towers. At Philippopolis we saw rice in the 
marshes growing like wheat. 

The whole plain is covered with mounds of earth, 

Servians leave off and the Rascians begin ; they are now both included 
under the name of Servians. 

1 This pass is commonly known as ' Trajan's Gate,' or the ' pass of 
Ichtiman.' It is a point on the frontier between Bulgaria and East 
Roumelia. 



ADRIANOPLE. 107 



which, according to the Turkish legends, are artificial, 
and mark the sites of the numerous battles which, 
they declare, took place in these fields. Underneath 
these barrows, they imagine, lie the victims of these 
struggles. 

Continuing our route, we followed pretty closely 
the banks of the Hebrus, which was for some time on 
our right hand, and leaving the Balkans, which ran 
down to the Black Sea, on our left, we at last crossed 
the Hebrus by the noble bridge built by Mustapha, 
and arrived at Adrianople, or, as it is called by the 
Turks, Endrene. The name of the city was Oresta 
until Hadrian enlarged it and gave it his own name. 
It is situated at the confluence of the Maritza, or 
Hebrus, and two small streams, the Tundja and Arda, 
which at this point alter their course and flow towards 
the ^gean Sea. Even this city is of no very great 
extent, if only that portion is included which is within 
the circuit of the ancient walls ; but the extensive 
buildings in the suburbs, which have been added by 
the Turks, make it a very considerable place. 

After stopping one day at Adrianople, we set out 
to finish the last stage of our journey to Constantinople, 
which is not far distant. As we passed through these 
districts we were presented with large nosegays of 
flowers, the narcissus, the hyacinth, and the tulipan 
(as the Turks call this last). We were very much 
surprised to see them blooming in midwinter, a season 
which does not suit flowers at all. There is a great 
abundance of the narcissus and hyacinth in Greece ; 
their fragrance is perfectly wonderful, so much so, that, 
when in great profusion, they affect the heads of those 
who are unaccustomed to the scent. The tulip has 
little or no smell ; its recommendation is the variety 
and beauty of the colouring. 



io8 TURKISH LETTERS, 



The Turks are passionately fond of flowers, and 
though somewhat parsimonious in other matters, they 
do not hesitate to give several aspres for a choice 
blossom. I, too, had to pay pretty dearly for these 
nosegays, although they were nominally presents, for 
on each occasion I had to pull out a few aspres as my 
acknowledgment of the gift. A man who visits the 
Turks had better make up his mind to open his purse 
as soon as he crosses their frontier, and not to shut it 
till he quits the country ; in the interval he must sow 
his money broadcast, and may thank his stars if the 
seed proves fruitful. But even assuming that he gets 
nothing else by his expenditure, he will find that there 
is no other means of counteracting the dislike and 
prejudice which the Turks entertain towards the rest 
of the world. Money is the charm wherewith to lull 
these feelings in a Turk, and there is no other way of 
mollifying him. But for this method of dealing with 
them, these countries would be as inaccessible to 
foreigners as the lands which are condemned (accord- 
ing to the popular belief) to unbroken solitude on 
account of excessive heat or excessive cold. 

Half way between Constantinople and Adrianople 
lies a little town called Tchourlou, famous as the place 
where Selim was defeated by his father, Bajazet. 
Selim,! who was only saved by the speed of his horse 
Caraboulut (i.e. the dark cloud), fled to the Crimea, 
where his father-in-law exercised supreme power. 

Just before we reached Selimbria, a small town 
lying on the coast, we saw some well-preserved traces 

' For an account of Selim, who at last succeeded in dethroning his 
father, see Creasy, History of the Ottoman Turks, chap, vii., and Von 
Hammer, book xxi. He was father of the Sultan to whose court Bus- 
becq was accredited. His successful rebelhon against his father has an 
important bearing on the events of which Busbecq was about to be a 
spectator. 



TCHEKMEDJ^. 109 

of an ancient earthwork and ditch, which they say 
were made in the days of the later Greek emperors, 
and extended from the Sea of Marmora to the 
Danube. 

These fortifications were intended to defend the 
land and property of the people of Constantinople 
which lay within their defences, against the inroads of 
barbarians. They tell of an old man in those days 
who declared that the existence of these works did not 
so much protect what was inside, as mark the sur- 
render of the rest to the barbarians, and so encourage 
them to attack, while it damped the spirit of the 
defenders. 

At Selimbria we stopped awhile to enjoy the view 
over the calm sea and pick up shells, while the waves 
rolled merrily on to the shore. We were also attracted 
by the sight of dolphins sporting in the waters ; and, in 
addition to all these sights, we enjoyed the heat of 
that delicious clime. I cannot tell you how warm and 
mild the air is in this charming spot. As far as 
Tchourlou there was a certain amount of cold, and the 
wind had a touch of the North about it ; but on 
leaving Tchourlou the air becomes extremely mild. 

Close to Constantinople we crossed over bridges, 
which spanned two lovely bays.^ If these places were 
cultivated, and nature were to receive the slightest 
assistance from art, I doubt whether in the whole 
world anything could be found to surpass them in 
loveliness. But the very ground seems to mourn its 
fate, and complain of the neglect of its barbarian master. 
Here we feasted on most delicious fish, caught before 
our eyes. 

While lodging in the hostels, which the Turks call 

1 Buyuk Tchekmedjd and Kutchuk Tchekmedjd. The bridges were 
constructed by Solyman. 



no TURKISH LETTERS. 

Imaret, I happened to notice a number of bits of paper 
stuck in the walls. In a fit of curiosity I pulled them 
out, imagining that there must be some reason for their 
being placed there. I asked my Turks what was 
written on the paper, but I could not find that they 
contained anything which could account for their being 
thus preserved. This made me all the more eager to 
learn why on earth they were kept ; for I had seen 
the same thing done in other places. My Turks made 
no reply, being unwilling to answer my question, 
either because they were shy of telling me that which 
I should not credit, or because they did not wish to 
unfold so mighty a mystery to one outside the pale of 
their religion. Some time later I learned from my 
friends among the Turks, that great respect is paid to 
a piece of paper, because there is a possibility that the 
name of God may be written on it ; and therefore they 
do not allow the smallest scrap to lie on the ground, 
but pick it up and stick it quickly in some chink or 
crack, that it may not be trodden on. There is no 
particular fault, perhaps, to be found with all this ; but 
let me tell you the rest. 

On the day of the last judgment, when Mahomet will 
summon his followers from purgatory to heaven and 
eternal bliss, the only road open to them will be over 
a red-hot gridiron, which they must walk across with 
bare feet. A painful ordeal, methinks. Picture to your- 
self a cock skipping and hopping over hot coals ! Now 
comes the marvel. All the paper they have preserved 
from being trodden on and insulted, will appear unex- 
pectedly, stick itself under their feet, and be of the 
greatest service in protecting them from the red-hot 
iron. This great boon awaits those who save paper 
from bad treatment. On some occasions our guides 
were most indignant with my servants for using paper 



SANCTITY OF PAPER. iii 

for some very dirty work, and reported it to me as an 
outrageous offence. I replied that they must not be 
surprised at such acts on the part of my servants. 
What could they expect, I added, from people who are 
accustomed to eat pork ? 

This is a specimen of Turkish superstition. With 
them it is a fearful offence for a man to sit, even un- 
wittingly, on the Koran (which is their Bible) ; in the 
case of a Christian the punishment is death. More- 
over, they do not allow rose-leaves to lie on the ground, 
because they think that the rose sprang from the sweat 
of Mahomet, just as the ancients believed that it came 
from the blood of Venus. But I must leave off, or I 
shall tire you with these trifling matters. 

I arrived at Constantinople on January 20, and 
there I found the colleagues I mentioned above, 
Antony Wranczy and Francis Zay. The Sultan was 
away in Asia with the Turkish army, and no one was 
left at Constantinople except the eunuch Ibrahim 
Pasha, governor of the city, and Roostem, who had 
been deprived of his office. Nevertheless, we visited 
the ex-chief-Vizier, showed him every courtesy, and 
gave him presents to mark our esteem ; for we did not 
forget the great influence he once had, and his prospect 
of shortly regaining it. 

Now that I am speaking of Roostem, I may as well 
tell you how he came to be deprived of his high office. 
Solyman had a son by a concubine, who came from the 
Crimea, if I remember rightly. H is name was Mustapha, 
and at the time of which I am speaking he was young, 
vigorous, and of high repute as a soldier. But 
Solyman had also several other children by a Russian 
woman (Roxolana).^ To the latter he was so much 

1 Of the two women mentioned here, one is called Bosphorana by 
Busbecq and the other Roxolana. Bosphorana means a native of the 



112 TURKISH LETTERS. 



attached that he placed her In the position of a wife, 
and assigned her a dowry, the giving and receiving of 
which constitutes a marriage amongst the Turks. In 
taking her as his wife, he broke through the custom of 
his later predecessors on the throne, none of whom, 
since the days of Bajazet the elder, had a lawful wife. 
For of all the indignities which the vanquished Sultan 
endured, when he and his wife fell into the hands of 
Tamerlane,^ nothing seemed more dreadful than the 
insults which his wife received before his eyes. His 
humiliation made so deep an impression on his suc- 
cessors that, up to the time of Solyman, they abstained 
from contracting a legal marriage with any woman, by 
way of insuring themselves, under all circumstances, 
against a similar misfortune. The mothers of their 
children were women in the position of slaves, the idea 
being that, if they were insulted, the disgrace to the 

kingdom of the Bosphorus— not the Thracian Bosphorus near Constanti- 
nople, but the Cimmerian Bosphorus, now called the straits of Caffa — 
which included the Crimea and the Caucasus. Roxolana means Russian ; 
she was always spoken of by contemporaneous Venetian ambassadors 
as ' la Rossa,' and Creasy in a note (p. 182), says that ' La Rossa ' was 
euphonised into Roxolana ; the mistake is obvious, for Roxolana is the 
classical equivalent for a Russian woman (see Smith's Classical Dic- 
tionary, s.v. Roxolani), and it is to Busbecq that she owes the name by 
which she has become famous. Her real name was Khourrem, i.e., ' the 
joyous one.' See Von Hammer, book xxxi. vol. v. p. 538. A curious 
story is told of how Roxolana prevailed on Solyman to make her 
his wife. Having borne a son to the Sultan, she became entitled 
according to the Mahometan law to her freedom ; this she claimed', 
and then refused to allow Solyman the rights of a husband unless he 
married her. She cleverly pointed out to the Sultan, that though she had 
lived with him as a slave without the bond of marriage, as a free woman 
she could not feel justified in doing so any longer. Solyman, as Bus- 
becq's letters will show, was the very man to be influenced by such an 
argument, and being unwilhng to give her up, he consented to her taking 
the position of a lawful wife. 

1 See Creasy, Ottotnan Turks, chap, iii., Von Hammer, book vii., 
and Gibbon, chap. Ixv. Tamerlane is a corruption of Timour lenk i.e. 
Timour the lame. 



ROOSTEM'S ORIGINAL OCCUPATION. 113 



Sultan would not be so great as in the case of a lawful 
wife. You must not be surprised at this, for the Turks 
do not consider the position of the children of con- 
cubines and mistresses inferior to that of the offspring 
of wives ; both have precisely the same rights of in- 
heritance to their father's property. 

Thus, then, matters stood. Mustapha's high 
qualities and matured years marked him out, to the 
soldiers who loved, and the people who supported him, 
as the successor of his father, who was now in the 
decline of life. On the other hand, his step-mother, by 
throwing the claim of a lawful wife into the scale, was 
doing her utmost to counterbalance his personal merits 
and his rights as eldest son, with a view to obtaining 
the throne for her own children. In this intrigue she 
received the advice and assistance of Roostem, whose 
fortunes were inseparably linked with hers by his 
marriage with a daughter she had had by Solyman. 
Of all the Pashas at Solyman's court none had such 
influence and weight as Roostem ; his determined 
character and clear-sighted views had contributed in 
no small degree to his master's fame. Perhaps you 
would like to know his origin. He was once a pig- 
driver ; ^ and yet he is a man well worthy of his high 
office, were his hands not soiled with greed. This was 
the only point as to which the Sultan was dissatisfied 
with him ; in every other respect he was the object of 
his love and esteem. However, this very fault his 
master contrived to turn to his advantage, by giving 
him the management of the privy purse and exchequer, 

^ During the Russo-Turkish war, 1877-8, a paragraph appeared in a 
paper published at Constantinople, professing to give an account of Mr. 
Gladstone, late Prime Minister of England. It described him as 
origmally ' a pig-driver.' This created great amusement in England, but 
to the countrymen of Roostem there seemed no inherent absurdity in the 
statement. 

VOL. I. I 



114 TURKISH LETTERS. 

Solyman's chief difficulties being on the score of 
finance. In his administration of this department he 
neglected no gain, however trivial, and scraped up 
money from the sale of the vegetables and flowers 
which grew in the imperial gardens ; he put up sepa- 
rately to auction each prisoner's helmet, coat-of-mail, 
and horse, and managed everything else after the same 
fashion. 

By these means he contrived to amass large 
sums of money, and fill Solyman's treasury. In short, 
he placed his finances in a sound position. His suc- 
cess in this department drew from a very bitter enemy 
of his an expression, which will surprise you as coming 
from a Turk. He declared that, even had he the 
power to hurt Roostem, he would not use it against 
one whose industry, zeal, and care had re-established 
his master's finances. There is in the palace a special 
vault, where these hoards are kept, and on it is this 
inscription, ' The moneys acquired by the care of 
Roostem.' 

Well, inasmuch as Roostem was chief Vizier, and 
as such had the whole of the Turkish administration 
in his hands, he had no difficulty, seeing that he was 
the Sultan's adviser in everything, in influencing his 
master's mind. The Turks, accordingly, are convinced 
that it was by the calumnies of Roostem and the spells 
of Roxolana, who was in ill repute as a practiser of 
witchcraft, that the Sultan was so estranged from his 
son as to entertain the design of getting rid of him. A 
few believe that Mustapha, being aware of the plans 
of Roostem and the practices of his stepmother, deter- 
mined to anticipate them, and thus engaged in designs 
against his father's throne and person. The sons of 
Turkish Sultans are in the most wretched position in 
the world, for, as soon as one of them succeeds his 



WRETCHED POSITION OF A SULTAN'S SONS. 115 

father, the rest are doomed to certain death. The 
Turk can endure no rival to the throne, and, indeed, 
the conduct of the Janissaries renders it impossible for 
the new Sultan to spare his brothers ; for if one of 
them survives, the Janissaries are for ever asking 
largesses. If these are refused, forthwith the cry is 
heard, ' Long live the brother ! ' ' God preserve the 
brother ! ' — a tolerably broad hint that they intend to 
place him on the throne. So that the Turkish Sultans 
are compelled to celebrate their succession by im- 
bruing their hands in the blood of their nearest 
relatives. Now whether the fault lay with Mustapha, 
who feared this fate for himself, or with Roxolana, who 
endeavoured to save her children at the expense of 
Mustapha, this much at any rate is certain — the sus- 
picions of the Sultan were excited, and the fate of his 
son was sealed. 

Being at war with Shah Tahmasp, King of the 
Persians, he had sent Roostem against him as com- 
mander-in-chief of his armies. Just as he was about to 
enter the Persian territory, Roostem suddenly halted, 
and hurried off despatches to Solyman, informing him 
that affairs were in a very critical state ; that treason 
was rife everywhere ; that the soldiers had been 
tampered with, and cared for no one but Mustapha ; 
that he (the Sultan) could control the soldiers, but that 
the evil was past his (Roostem s) curing ; that his pre- 
sence and authority were wanted ; and he must come 
at once, if he wished to preserve his throne. Solyman 
was seriously alarmed by these despatches. He im- 
mediately hurried to the army, and sent a letter to 
summon Mustapha to his presence, inviting him to 
clear himself of those crimes of which he was sus- 
pected, and indeed openly accused, at the same time 
assuring him that, if he proved innocent, no danger 

I 2 



ii6 TURKISH LETTERS. 

awaited him. Mustapha had now to make his choice. 
If he obeyed the summons of his angry and offended 
father, the risk was great ; but if he excused himself 
from coming, it would be tantamount to an admission 
of treason. He determined to take the course which 
demanded most courage and involved most danger. 

He left Amasia, the seat of his government, and 
went to his father's camp, which lay at no great dis- 
tance,^ either trusting in his innocence, or feeling 
confident that no evil would happen to him in the 
presence of the army. However that may be, he fell 
into a trap from which there was no escape. 

Solyman had brought with him his son's death 
doom, which he had prepared before leaving home. 
With a view to satisfying religious scruples, he had 
previously consulted his mufti. This is the name given 
to the chief priest among the Turks, and answers to 
our Pope of Rome. In order to get an impartial 
answer from the mufti, he put the case before him as 
follows : — He told him that there was at Constanti- 
nople a merchant of good position, who, when about 
to leave home for some time, placed over his property 
and household a slave to whom he had shown the 
greatest favour, and entrusted his wife and children to 
his loyalty. No sooner was the master gone than this 
slave began to embezzle his master's property, and 
plot against the lives of his wife and children ; nay, 
more, had attempted to compass his master's de- 
struction. The question which he (Solyman) wished 
the mufti to answer was this : What sentence could 
be lawfully pronounced against this slave } The 

' Busbecq is in error here, for Solyman was encamped at Eregli, in 
Karamania, about 250 miles from Amasia. Von Hammer takes our 
author to task for laying the scene at Amasia ; but Busbecq nowhere 
commits himself to this statement. 



MUST A PH A STRANGLED. 117 

mufti answered that in his judgment he deserved 
to be tortured to death. Now, whether this was the 
mufti's own opinion, or whether it was pronounced at 
the instigation of Roostem or Roxolana, there is no 
doubt that it greatly influenced Solyman, who was 
already minded to order the execution of his son ; for 
he considered that the latter's offence against himself 
was quite as great as that of the slave against his 
master, in the case he had put before the mufti. 

There was great uneasiness among the soldiers, 
when Mustapha arrived in the camp. He was brought 
to his father's tent, and there everything betokened 
peace. There was not a soldier on guard, no aide-de- 
camp, no policeman, nothing that could possibly alarm 
him and make him suspect treachery. But there were 
in the tent certain mutes — a favourite kind of 
servant among the Turks — strong and sturdy fellows, 
who had been appointed as his executioners. As soon 
as he entered the inner tent, they threw themselves 
upon him, and endeavoured to put the fatal noose 
around his neck. Mustapha, being a man of consider- 
able strength, made a stout defence, and fought — not 
only for his life, but also for the throne ; there being 
no doubt that if he escaped from his executioners, and 
threw himself among the Janissaries, the news of this 
outrage on their beloved prince would cause such pity 
and indignation, that they would not only protect him, 
but also proclaim him Sultan. Solyman felt how 
critical the matter was, being only separated by the 
linen hangings of his tent from the stage, on which this 
tragedy was being enacted. When he found that 
there was an unexpected delay in the execution of his 
scheme, he thrust out his head from the chamber of 
his tent, and glared on the mutes with fierce and 
threatening eyes ; at the same time, with signs full of 



ii8 TURKISH LETTERS. 

hideous meaning, he sternly rebuked their slackness. 
Hereon the mutes, gaining fresh strength from the 
terror he inspired, threw Mustapha down, got the 
bowstring round his neck, and strangled him. Shortly 
afterwards they laid his body on a rug in front of the 
tent, that the Janissaries might see the man they had 
desired as their Sultan. When this was noised through 
the camp, the whole army was filled with pity and 
grief ; nor did one of them fail to come and gaze on 
that sad sight. Foremost of all were the Janissaries, 
so astounded and indignant that, had there been 
anyone to lead them, they would have flinched from 
nothing. But they saw their chosen leader lying lifeless 
on the ground. The only course left to them was to 
bear patiendy that which could not be cured. So, sadly 
and silently, with many a tear, they retired to their 
tents, where they were at liberty to indulge their 
grief at the unhappy end of their young favourite. 
First they declared that Solyman was a dotard and 
a madman. They then expressed their abhorrence 
of the cruel treachery of the stepmother (Roxolana), 
and the wickedness of Roostem, who, between them, 
had extinguished the brightest light of the house ot 
Othman. Thus they passed that day fasting, nor did 
they even touch water; indeed, there were some of 
them who remained without food for a still lono-er 
time. 

For several days there was a general mourning 
throughout the camp, and there seemed no prospect of 
any abatement of the soldiers' sorrow, unless Roostem 
were removed from office. This step Solyman accord- 
ingly took, at the suggestion (as it is generally believed) 
of Roostem himself He dismissed him from office, 
and sent him back to Constantinople in disgrace. 

His post was filled by Achmet Pasha, who is more 



DISMISSAL OF ROOSTEM. rig 

distinguished for courage than for judgment. When 
Roostem had been chief Vizier he had been second. This 
change soothed and calmed the spirits of the soldiers. 
With the credulity natural to the lower orders, they 
were easily induced to believe that Solyman had dis- 
covered Roostem's machinations and his wife's sor- 
ceries, and was coming to his senses now that it was all 
too late, and that this was the cause of Roostem's fall. 
Indeed, they were persuaded that he would not even 
spare his wife, when he returned to Constantinople. 
Moreover, the men themselves met Roostem at 
Constantinople, apparently overwhelmed with grief 
and without the slightest hope of recovering his 
position. 

Meanwhile, Roxolana, not contented with remov- 
ing Mustapha from her path, was compassing the 
death of the only son he had left, who was still a child ; 
for she did not consider that she and her children were 
free from danger, so long as his offspring survived. 
Some pretext, however, she thought necessary, in 
order to furnish a reason for the murder, but this was 
not hard to find. Information is brought to Solyman 
that, whenever his grandson appeared in public, the 
boys of Ghemlik^ — where he was being educated — 
shouted out, ' God save the Prince, and may he long 
survive his father ; ' and that the meaning of these cries 
was to point him out as his grandsire's future successor, 
and his father's avenger. Moreover, he was bidden 
to remember that the Janissaries would be sure to sup- 
port the son of Mustapha, so that the father's death 
had in no way secured the peace of the throne and 
realm ; that nothing ought to be preferred to the 

1 Ghemlik, on the Sea of Marmora, called Prusias by Busbecq. 
It was originally called Kios, and about B.C. 200, Prusias, King of 
Bithynia, gave it his own name. See Strabo, 563-4. 



120 TURKISH LETTERS. 



interests of religion, not even the lives of our children ; 
that the whole Mussulman religion (as they call it, 
meaning ' the best religion ') depended on the safety of 
the throne and the rule of the house of Othman ; and 
that, if the family were to fall, the foundations of 
the faith would be overthrown ; that nothing would so 
surely lead to the downfall of the house as disunion 
among its members ; for the sake, therefore, of the 
family, the empire, and religion itself, a stop must be 
put to domestic feuds ; no price could be too great for 
the accomplishment of such an end, even though a 
father's hands had to be dipped in his children's blood ; 
nay, the sacrifice of one's children's lives was not to be 
esteemed of any great account, if the safety of the 
faith was thereby assured. There was still less reason, 
they added, for compunction in this case, inasmuch as 
the boy, as Mustapha's son, was already a participator 
in his father's guilt, and there could be no doubt that 
he would shortly place himself at the head of his father's 
partisans. 

Solyman was easily induced by these arguments to 
sign the death-warrant of his grandson. He com- 
missioned Ibrahim Pasha to go to Ghemlik with all 
speed, and put the innocent child to death. 

On arriving at Ghemlik, Ibrahim took special care 
to conceal his errand from the lad's mother, for that she 
should be allowed to know of her son's execution, and 
almost see it with her eyes, would have seemed too 
barbarous. Besides, his object, if it got wind, might 
provoke an insurrection, and so his plans be frus- 
trated. 

By the following artifice he threw her off her guard. 
He pretended he was sent by Solyman to visit her and 
her son ; he said his master had found out, when too 
late, that he had made a terrible mistake in putting 



EXECUTION OF MUSTAPHAS SON. 121 

Mustapha to death, and intended, by his affection for 
the son, to atone for his injustice to the father. 

Many stories of this kind he told, in order to gain 
credence with the fond mother, whose fears had, at 
that time, been to a great extent dispelled by the 
news of Roostem's fall. After thus flattering her 
hopes, he presented her with a few trifling gifts. 

A couple of days later he threw in a word about 
the confined atmosphere of the city, and the desir- 
ability of change of air, and so obtained her consent to 
their setting out next day for a seat near the city. She 
herself was to go in a carriage, and her son to ride in 
front of the carriage on horseback. There was nothing 
in these arrangements that could excite suspicion, and 
so she agreed. A carriage was got ready, the axle-tree 
of which was so put together as to ensure its breaking 
when they came to a certain rough place, which they 
needs must cross. Accordingly, the mother entered 
the carriage, and set forth, poor woman, on her journey 
into the country. The eunuch rode well in front with 
the lad, as if to take the opportunity for a chat ; the 
mother followed with what speed she might. When 
they reached the rough ground I told you of, the 
wheel struck violently against the stones, and the axle 
broke. The mother, whom this accident filled with 
the worst forebodings, was in the greatest alarm, and 
could not be kept from leaving the carriage, and fol- 
lowing her son on foot, attended only by a few of her 
women. But the eunuch had already reached his des- 
tination. As soon as he had crossed the threshold of 
the house which was to be the scene of the murder, 
he uttered the sentence of death : ' The order of the 
Sultan is that you must die.' The boy, they say, 
made answer like a true Turk, that he received the 
decree, not as the order of the Sultan, but the com- 



122 TURKISH LETTERS. 

mand of God ; and, with these words on his lips, 
suffered the fatal noose to be placed round his neck. 
And so — young, innocent, and full of promise — the 
little fellow was strangled. When the deed was done 
the eunuch slipped out by a back door, and fled for 
his life. Presently came the mother. She had already 
guessed what had taken place. She knocked at the 
door. When all was over, they let her in. There lay 
her son before her eyes, his body still warm with life, 
the pulses throbbing, the breath hardly departed from 
him. But we had better draw a veil over the sad 
scene. What a mother's feelings must have been to 
see her son thus entrapped and murdered, it were easier 
to imagine than describe. 

She was then compelled to return to Ghemlik. 
She came into the city with her hair dishevelled and 
her robe rent, filling the air with her shrieks and 
moanings. The women of Ghemlik, high and low, 
gathered round her; and when they heard of the fear- 
ful deed that had been perpetrated, like frenzied 
Bacchantes they rushed out of the gates. ' Where's 
the eunuch ? Where's the eunuch .'' ' is their cry. 
And woe to him had he fallen into their hands. But 
he, knowing what impended, and fearing to be torn in 
pieces by the furious women, like a second Orpheus,^ 
lost no time in making his escape. 

But I must now return to my subject. A mes- 
senger was despatched to Solyman, with a letter an- 
nouncing my arrival. During the interval, while we 
were waiting for his answer, I had an opportunity of 
seeing Constantinople at my leisure. My chief wish 
was to visit the Church of St. Sophia ; to which, how- 
ever, I only obtained admission as a special favour, as 

' The legend of Orpheus being torn to pieces by the women of 
Thrace was a favourite with the ancients. See Virgil, Georgic IV., &c. 



DESCRIPTION OF CONSTANTINOPIE. 123 

the Turks think that their temples are profaned by the 
entrance of a Christian. It is a grand and massive 
building, well worth visiting. There is a huge central 
cupola, or dome, lighted only from a circular opening 
at tlie top. Almost all the Turkish mosques are built 
after the pattern of St. Sophia. Some say it was for- 
merly much bigger, and that there were several 
buildings in connection with it, covering a great extent 
of ground, which were pulled down many years ago, 
the shrine in the middle of the church alone being left 
standing; 

As regards the position of the city, it is one which 
nature herself seems to have designed for the mistress 
of the world. It stands in Europe, Asia is close in 
front, with Egypt and Africa on its right ; and though 
these last are not, in point of distance, close to Con- 
stantinople, yet, practically, the communication by sea 
links them to the city. On the left, are the Black 
Sea and the Sea of Azoff. Many nations live all 
round the coasts of these seas, and many rivers pour 
into them ; so that, through the length and breadth of 
these countries, which border on the Black Sea, there is 
nothing grown for man's use, which cannot, with the 
greatest ease, be brought to Constantinople by water. 
On one side the city is washed by the Sea of Marmora, 
on the other the creek forms a harbour which, from its 
shape, is called by Strabo ' the Golden Horn.' On the 
third side it is united to the mainland, so that its 
position may be described as a peninsula or pro- 
montory formed by a ridge running out between the 
sea on one side, and the frith on the other. Thus 
from the centre of Constantinople there is a most 
exquisite view over the sea, and of Mount Olympus in 
Asia, white with perpetual snow. The sea is perfectly 
crowded with shoals of fish making their way, after the 



124 TURKISH LETTERS. 

manner of their kind, from the Sea of Azoff and the 
Black Sea through the Bosphorus and the Sea of 
Marmora into the ^gean and Mediterranean, or again 
returning to the Black Sea. The shoals are so big, 
and so closely packed, that sometimes fish can be 
caught with the hand. Mackerel, tunnies, bigheads, 
bream, and sword-fish are to be had in abundance. 
The fishermen are, for the most part, Greeks, as they 
take to this occupation more readily than the Turks, 
although the latter do not despise fish when brought 
to table, provided they are of the kinds which they 
consider clean ; as for the rest, they would as lief 
take a dose of poison as touch them. I should 
tell you, by the way, that a Turk would sooner have 
his tongue or teeth torn out, than taste anything 
which he considers unclean, as, for instance, a frog, a 
snail, or a tortoise. The Greeks are subject to the same 
superstition. I had engaged a lad of the Greek Church 
as purveyor for my people. His fellow-servants had 
never been able to induce him to eat snails ; at last they 
set a dish of them before him, cooked and seasoned in 
such a way that he fancied it was some kind of fish, 
and helped himself to it most liberally. But when the 
other servants, laughing and giggling, produced the 
snail shells, and showed him that he had been taken 
in, his distress was such as to baffle all description. 
He rushed to his chamber, where there was no end 
to his tears, misery, and sickness. He declared that 
it would cost him two months' wages, at the least, to 
obtain absolution for his sin ; it being the custom of 
Greek priests to charge those who come for confession 
a price varying with the nature and extent of the 
offence, and to refuse absolution to those who do not 
comply with their demand. 

At the eixl of the promontory I mentioned, stands 



SNAILS AND CONFESSION. 125 

the palace of the Turkish Sultan, which, as far as I can 
see — for I have not yet been admitted within its walls 
— has no grandeur of design or architectural details to 
make it worth a visit. Below the palace, on lower 
ground near the shore, lie the Sultan's gardens fringing 
the sea. This is the quarter where people think that 
old Byzantium stood. You must not expect here to 
have the story of why in former days the people of 
Chalcedon were called blind,^ who lived opposite 
Byzantium — the very ruins of Chalcedon have now 
well nigh disappeared ; neither must you expect to 
hear of the peculiar nature of the sea, in that it flows 
downwards with a current that never stops nor 
changes ; nor about the pickled condiments which are 
brought to Constantinople from the Sea of Azoff, 
which the Italians call moronellas, botargas, and caviare. 
Such matters would be out of place here ; indeed, I 
think I have already exceeded the limits of a letter ; 
besides, they are facts which can be read both in 
ancient and modern authors. 

I now return to Constantinople. Nothing could 
exceed the beauty or the commercial advantages of its 
situation. In Turkish cities it is, as I told you before, 
useless to expect handsome buildings or fine streets ; 
the extreme narrowness of the latter renders a good 
effect impossible. In many places are to be found 
interesting remains of ancient works of art, and yet, as 
regards number, the only marvel is that more are not 
in existence, when we remember how many Constan- 
tine brought from Rome. I do not intend to describe 
each of them separately, but I will touch on a few. 
On the site of the ancient hippodrome are a pair of 
bronze serpents,^ which people go to see, and also a 

' See Tacitus, Annals, xii. 63. Herodotus, iv. 144. 

2 The bronze serpents, which are still on the same site, are three, and 



126 TURKISH LETTERS. 

remarkable obelisk. There ai'e besides two famous pillars 
at Constantinople, which are considered among the 
sights. One of them is opposite the caravanserai 
where we were entertained, and the other is in the 
market-place which the Turks call ' Avret Bazaar,' i.e. 
the female slave market. It is engraven from top to 
bottom with the history of the expedition of Arcadius, 
who built it, and by whose statue it was long sur- 
mounted. It would be more correct to call it a spiral 
staircase than a column, for there is inside it a set of 
steps, by ascending which one can reach the top. I 
have a picture of it. On the other hand, the column ^ 
which stands opposite the inn where it is usual for the 
imperial Ambassadors to be lodged, is formed, with the 
exception of its base and capital, of eight solid blocks 
of porphyry, united in such a way as to present the 
appearance of a single block. Indeed, the popular 
belief is that it is made out of one piece ; for each 
separate joining is covered by a band running right 
round the column, on which laurels are carved. By 
this means the joinings are concealed from the eyes of 

not two in number. See Gibbon, chap, xvii., where he describes these 
serpents, and proves that they form the serpent pillar mentioned by 
Herodotus, ix. 8i ; on it was placed the golden tripod, made of part 
of the spoil taken at the battle of Platsa B.C. 479, and dedicated to 
Apollo. It was removed from Delphi to Constantinople by order of Con- 
stantine. 

' ' The centre of the Forum was occupied by a lofty column, of which 
a mutilated fragment is now degraded by the appellation of the burnt 
pillar. This column was erected on a pedestal of white marble 20 feet high, 
and was composed often pieces of porphyry, each of which measured about 
10 feet in height and about 33 in circumference. On the summit of the 
pillar, above 120 feet from the ground, stood the colossal statue of Apollo. 
It was of bronze, and had been transported either from Athens or a 
town in Phrygia, and was supposed to be the work of Phidias. The 
artist had represented the god of day, or, as it was afterwards interpreted, 
the Emperor Constantine himself, with a sceptre in his right hand, the 
globe of the world in his left, and a crown of rays glittering on his head.' 
Gibbon, chap. xvii. 



OBELISK IN THE HIFFODROME. 127 

those who look at it from the ground. Having been 
shaken by several earthquakes, and scorched by a fire 
in the neighbourhood, the column is splitting in many 
places, and is here and there belted with iron to pre- 
vent its coming to pieces. They say that it was at 
one time surmounted by a statue of Apollo, afterwards 
by one of Constantine, and lastly by that of Theodosius 
the elder, all of which were successively thrown down 
by a gale or an earthquake. 

The Greeks tell the following story about the 
obelisk in the hippodrome, which I mentioned above. 
They say that it was torn from its base, and lay on the 
ground for many years, and that in the time of the 
later Emperors, an architect was found who undertook 
to replace it on its pedestal. The contract being con- 
cluded, he set up a huge machine, which was chiefly 
worked by ropes and pulleys ; by this means he got 
the huge stone into an upright position, and raised it 
within three inches of the blocks, on which it had to be 
placed. The spectators forthwith concluded that all 
the architect's trouble, and the labour he had bestowed 
on his machine, had been to no purpose, and that the 
work would have to be begun afresh, at the cost of 
great toil and great expense. But the architect was 
not in the least alarmed, and, profiting by one of 
nature's secrets, he ordered large supplies of water to 
be brought. With this for several hours the machine 
was drenched. As the ropes, by which the obelisk was 
suspended, got wet, they gradually contracted, and of 
course became shorter, so that the obelisk was raised 
higher and placed on the blocks, amid the cheers and 
admiration of the crowd.^ 

I saw at Constantinople wild beasts of different 
kinds — lynxes, wild cats, panthers, leopards, and lions, 

■ A similar story is told of the obelisk in front of St. Peter's at Rome. 



128 TURKISH LETTERS. 

so subdued and tame that one of them, when I was 
looking on, suffered its keeper to pull out of its mouth 
a sheep that had that moment been thrown to it. The 
creature remained quite quiet, though its jaws were but 
just stained with blood. 

I saw also a young elephant which could dance and 
play ball most cleverly. When you read this, I am 
sure you will not be able to suppress a smile. ' An 
elephant,' you will say, ' dancing and playing ball ! ' 
Well, why not ? Is it more wonderful than the ele- 
phant which, Seneca tells us, walked on the tight 
rope, or that one which Pliny describes as a Greek 
scholar ^ 

But I must make myself clear, lest you should 
think I am romancing, or misunderstand me. When 
the elephant was told to dance, it hopped and shuffled, 
swaying itself to and fro, as if it fain would dance a jig. 
It played ball after the following fashion : — On the 
ball being thrown to it, the elephant caught it cleverly, 
driving it back with his trunk, as we do with the palm 
of the hand. If this is not enough in your eyes to 
warrant the assertion that the animal danced and 
played ball, you must go to some one who can make 
up a story with less scruple and more wit than your 
humble servant. 

Just before I reached Constantinople there was a 
camelopard (giraffe) in the menagerie ; but at the time 
of my visit it was dead and buried. However, I had 
its bones dug up for the purpose of examining them. 
The creature is much taller in front than behind, and 
on that account unfit for carrying burdens or being 
ridden. It is called a camelopard because its head 
and neck are like a camel's, while its skin is spotted 
like a pard (panther). 

If I had not visited the Black Sea, when I had an op- 



SAILING UP THE BO.SPHORUS: 129 

portunity of sailing thither, I should have deserved to be 
blamed for my laziness, since the ancients held it to be 
quite as great an exploit to have visited the Black Sea, 
as to have sailed to Corinth. Well, we had a delightful 
voyage, and I was allowed to enter some of the royal 
kiosks. On the folding doors of one of these palaces 
I saw a picture of the famous battle ^ between Selim 
and Ismael, King of the Persians, executed in masterly 
style, in tesselated work. I saw also a great many 
pleasure-grounds belonging to the Sultan, situated in 
the most charming valleys. Their loveliness was 
almost entirely the work of nature ; to art they owed 
litde or nothing. What a fairyland ! What a land- 
scape for waking a poet's fancy ! What a retreat for 
a scholar to retire to ! I do declare that, as I said just 
now, these spots seem to grieve and ask for Christian 
help and Christian care once more ; and still truer are 
these words of Constantinople, or rather of the whole 
of Greece. That land was once most prosperous ; to- 
day it is subject to an unnatural bondage. It seems as 
if the country, which in ancient times discovered the 
fine arts and every liberal science, were demandino- 
back that civilisation which it gave to us, and were 
adjuring us, by the claim of a common faith, to be its 
champion against savage barbarism. But it is all in 
vain. The princes of Christendom have other objects 
in view ; and, after all, the Greeks are not under 
heavier bondage to the Turks, than we are to our own 
vices— luxury, intemperance, sloth, lust, pride, ambi- 
tion, avarice, hatred, envy, malice. By these our souls 
are so weighed down and buried, that they cannot look 
up to heaven, or entertain one glorious thought, or 
contemplate one noble deed. The ties of a common 

' The battle of Tschaldiran, August 23, a.d. 15 14. See Creasy 
History of the Ottoman Turks, chap. viii. ; Von Hammer, book xxii. 
VOL. I. K 



130 TURKISH LETTERS. 

faith, and the duty we owe our brethren ought to have 
drawn us to their assistance, even though glory and 
honour had no charm for our dull hearts ; at any rate, 
self-interest, which is the first thing men think of 
nowadays, should have made us anxious to rescue 
lands so fair, with all their great resources and advan- 
tages, from the hand of the barbarian, that we might 
hold them in his stead. At present we are seeking 
across the wide seas the Indies ^ and Antipodes. And 
why ? It is because in those lands there are simple, 
guileless creatures from whom rich booty may be torn 
without the cost of a single wound. For these ex- 
peditions religion supplies the pretext and gold the 
motive. 

This was not the fashion with our ancestors. They 
scorned to place themselves on the level of a trader by 
seeking those lands where gold was most plentiful, but 
deemed that land most desirable which gave them the 
best opportunity of proving their valour and perform- 
ing their duty. They, too, had their toil ; they, too, 
had their dangers ; they, too, had their distant expedi- 
tions ; but honour was the prize they sought, not profit. 
When they came home from their wars, they came home 
not richer in wealth, but richer in renown? 

These words are for your private ear, for perhaps 
some may hold it foul wrong for a man to suggest that 
the moral tone of the present day leaves aught to be 

• Busbecq is alluding to the then recent conquests of Mexico and 
Peru. When he penned these lines only thirty-four years had elapsed 
since Cortez conquered Mexico, and twenty-four since Pizarro made him- 
self master of the kingdom of the Incas ; the tide of adventurers was 
still pouring into those unhappy lands. 

2 Busbecq is evidently referring to the exploits of his countrymen in 
the days of the Crusades. 'At the same time' (a.d. 1200), says Gibbon 
(chap. Ix.), ' Baldwin, Count of Flanders, assumed the Cross at Bruges, 
with his brother Henry, and the principal knights and citizens of that 
rich and industrious province.' See also page 103. 



THE BOSPHORUS AND BLACK SEA. 131 

desired. However that may be, I see that the arrows 
are being sharpened for our destruction ; and I fear it 
will turn out that if we will not fight for glory, we shall 
be compelled to fight for existence. 

I will now take you back to the sea which the 
ancients call Pontus and the Turks call Caradenis, or 
the Black Sea. It pours through a narrow outlet into 
the Thracian Bosphorus, down which it rolls, beating 
against the curving headlands with many an eddy till 
it reaches Constantinople after the space of one day. 
At this point it rushes into the Sea of Marmora by a 
passage almost as narrow as that by which it enters 
the Bosphorus. In the middle of the mouth next the 
Black Sea is a rock with a column, on the base of 
which a Roman name is written in Latin characters 
{' Octavian,' if I remember rightly) ; then on the Euro- 
pean shore is a lofty tower, which serves as a light- 
house to ships by night. They call it Pharos.^ Not 
far from it a brook flows into the sea, from whose bed 
we gathered some pebbles almost equal to the onyx 
and sardonyx ; at any rate, when they are polished 
they are nearly as brilliant. A few miles from the 
entrance I mentioned are shown the straits across 
which Darius led his army in his expedition against 
the Scythians of Europe ; then half-way between the 
northern and southern entrances to the Bosphorus 
stand two castles opposite each other, one in Europe 
and the other in Asia. The latter was held by the 
Turks a long time before the attack on Constantinople ; 
the former was built by Mahomet, and fortified with 
strong towers, a few years before he stormed Constan- 
tinople. At present the Turks use it for the incarcer- 
ation of prisoners of rank. Not long ago, Lazarus, an 

' Properly, the name of the islet at Alexandria on which the light- 
house stood ; hence the name was given to any lighthouse. 



132 TURKISH LETTERS. 

Albanian chief, made his escape from it. He was 
recaptured with the Spaniards at Castel Nuovo,^ and 
brought back to Constantinople. For this offence he 
suffered the fearful punishment of impalement, but bore 
his sufferings with wonderful composure. 

And now, perhaps, you will want me to tell you 
something about the floating islands, called the Cya- 
nean '-^ islands, or Symplegades. I honestly confess 
that during the few, hours I was there I was unable 
to discover any Cyanean islands, though possibly they 
had floated off somewhere else ! If you are disposed 
to be curious on this head you will before long have 
a more accurate account from P. Gilles,^ whose re- 
searches into all subjects of this kind are most precise ; 
from me you must not expect to hear of more than 
meets the traveller's eye. 

One matter it would be unpardonable to pass by in 
silence, viz. that Polybius is utterly wrong in the con- 
clusion which he deduces from various arguments, that 
in process of time the Black Sea would be so choked 
by the alluvial soil brought into it by the Danube, the 

' A Dalmatian fortress captured by the Spaniards in the autumn of 
A.D. 1538, and recaptured by the Turks in the following August. Von 
Hammer, book xxix. 

* ' The straits of the Bosphorus are terminated by the Cyanean rocks, 
which, according to the description of the poets, had once floated on the 
face of the waters. The deception was occasioned by several pointed 
rocks alternately covered and abandoned by the waves. At present there 
are two small islands, one towards either shore ; that of Europe is dis- 
tinguished by the pillar of Pompey.' Gibbon, chap. xvii. 

^ P. Gilles (or Gyllius) was born at Albi in 1490. He was sent by 
Francis I. to the Levant ; the remittances he expected having miscarried, 
he was obliged to enlist in Solyman's army and served against the 
Persians. In 1549 he received money from his friends, with which he 
purchased his discharge. He returned home in 1550, and died at Rome 
in 1555, the year that Busbecq wrote this letter. Besides other works he 
published three books on the Thracian Bosphorus, and four on the Topo- 
graphy and Antiquities of Constantinople. Gibbon quotes him fre- 
quently, and speaks of his learning with great respect. 



DEPARTURE FOR AMASIA. 133 

Dneiper, and other rivers, as to become unnavigable. 
He is utterly wrong, I say, for there is not one atom 
more difficulty in sailing over the Black Sea now than 
there was in his days. 

This is one of those numerous instances in which 
time and experience upset conclusions, which in theory 
seemed impregnable. 

In former days everyone subscribed to the opinion 
that the lands under the torrid zone were uninhabit- 
able, and yet the accounts of men who have visited 
those regions prove that they are for the most part 
quite as thickly populated as other countries ; nay 
more, they tell us that at the very time when the sun 
is at its highest, and its rays fall perpendicularly on 
the earth, the heat ^ is tempered by continuous rains 
shadincr and coolings those lands. 

When the Sultan had received the despatches an- 
nouncing my arrival, orders were sent to the Governor 
of Constantinople to convey us over to Asia, and send 
us on to Amasia (or Amazeia, as it is spelt on ancient 
coins). Accordingly, we made our preparations, our 
guides were appointed, and on March 9 we crossed 
into Anatolia, as the Turks now call Asia. On that 
day we did not get further than Scutari. This village 
lies on the Asiatic shore opposite ancient Byzantium, 
on the very ground, or possibly a little below, where 
the site of the famous city of Chalcedon is supposed 
to be. 

The Turks thought it quite sufficient progress for 
one day to get horses, carriages, luggage, and suite 
across the straits ; their special reason for not going 
further on that day was, that, if they had forgotten 
anything necessary for the journey, (a very ordinary 

' This passage appears to be founded on a mistranslation of Hero- 
dotus, iii. 104. 



^34 TURKISH LETTERS. 



circumstance), they would not have far to send for it. 
Leaving Scutari on the next day, we passed through 
fields full of lavender, and other fragrant plants. Here 
we saw a great many big tortoises crawling about. 
They were not afraid of us, and we should have caught 
and eaten them with the greatest pleasure, had we not 
shrunk from hurting the feelings of the Turks who 
accompanied us; for had they touched them, or so 
much as seen them brought to our table, they would 
have held themselves to be defiled, and would have 
required endless washings to remove their imaginary 
pollution. You will remember my telling you of the 
extent to which both Greeks and Turks carry their 
superstition in avoiding contact with animals of this 
kind. Since no one, therefore, would snare as vermin 
a creature so harmless, and no one will eat it, the con- 
sequence is that tortoises swarm in these parts. I 
kept one which had two heads for several days, and it 
would have lived longer had I not neglected it. 

That day we came to a village called Cartali. By 
the way, I shall from this point be glad to give you 
the names of our halting-places. The journey to 
Constantinople has been taken by many, but the road 
to Amasia has, to the best of my knowledge, been 
traversed by no European before us. From Cartali 
we came to Gebise, a town of Bithynia, which they 
think was formerly Libyssa, famous as the burial-place 
of Hannibal. From it there is a most lovely view 
over the sea and bay of Ismid ; I observed also some 
cypresses of extraordinary height and girth. 

Our fourth stage from Constantinople brought us to 
Nicomedia (Ismid). It is an ancient city of great 
renown ; but we saw nothing in it worth looking at 
except its ruins and rubbish, which contained, in the 
remnants of column and architrave, all that is left of 



JACKALS. 135 

its ancient grandeur. The citadel, which stands on a 
hill, is in a better state of preservation. Shortly before 
our arrival, a long wall of white marble had been dis- 
covered under the earth by some people who had been 
digging, which, I am inclined to think, formed part 
of the ancient palace of the kings of Bithynia. 

After leaving Nicomedia, we crossed the range of 
Mount Olympus, and arrived at the village of Kasockli ; 
thence to Nic^a (Isnik), which we did not reach till 
late in the evening. I heard not far from the city 
loud shouting, and what seemed to be cries of mockery 
and insult issuing from human lips. I asked what it 
was, suggesting that it might proceed from some boat- 
men on the Lake of Isnik, which was not far off, and 
that they were chaffing us for being so late on the road. 
They told me that it was the bowlings of certain wild 
beasts, which the Turks call jackals. They are a 
species of wolf, not so large as the common wolf, but 
larger than foxes, and quite a match for the former 
in greed and gluttony. They hunt in packs, doing no 
harm to human beings or cattle, and obtaining their 
food by thievery and cunning rather than by force. 
Hence the Turks call sharpers and swindlers, espe- 
cially if they come from Asia, jackals. They enter the 
tents, and even the houses, of the Turks at night, and 
devour any eatables they find ; indeed, if they can get 
nothing else, they gnaw any leathern article they may 
chance upon, such as boots, leggings, belts, scabbards, 
&c. They are very clever in this manner of stealing, 
except in one particular, for, absurdly enough, they 
sometimes give evidence against themselves. When 
in the very act of stealing, if one of the pack outside 
happens to set up a howl, they answer the cry, quite 
forgetting where they are. The sound awakes the 
inmates ; they catch up their arms and visit the thieves, 



^36 TURKISH LETTERS. 



whom they have taken red-handed, with condign 
punishment. 

We remained the following day at Nic^a, and I 
am incHned to think that the building I slept in was 
the very one in which the Nicene Council was formerly 
held. Nicaea lies on the shores of the Lake of Isnik. 
The walls and gates of the town are in fairly good con- 
dition. There are four gateways in all, and they can 
be seen from the centre of the market-place. On each 
of them is an ancient inscription in Latin, stating that the 
town had been restored by Antoninus. I do not remem- 
ber which Antoninus it was, but I am quite certain that 
It was an Antoninus, who was Emperor. He also built 
some baths, the remains of which are still in existence. 
Whilst we were at Nicaa, some Turks, who were 
diggmo up stone from the ruins for the construction of 
public buildings at Constantinople, came across a statue 
of an armed soldier, of excellent workmanship, and 
almost perfect. But with their hammers they soon 
reduced it to a shapeless mass. On our expressing 
vexation at this act of theirs, the workmen jeered at 
us, and asked us if we wanted, in accordance with our 
customs, to worship the statue and pray to it. 

From Nicaea (Isnik) we came to Jenysar (Yeni 
Shehr), next to Ackbyuck, and thence to Bazargyck 
(Bazarjik), from which place we came to Bosovick, or 
Cassumbasa, which lies in the gorge of the pass o'ver 
Mount Olympus. From Nicaea our road lay almost 
entirely along the slopes of Mount Olympus, until we 
reached Bosovick. 

Here we lodged in a Turkish hostel. Opposite 
stood a rock somewhat higher than the building, in 
which was cut a square cistern of considerable ""size, 
and from the bottom of it a pipe ran down to the 
highway road. The ancient inhabitants used in winter 



ANGORA GOATS. 137 

to fill the cistern with snow ; as it melted, the iced 
water, trickling down to the road through the pipe, 
refreshed the thirsty wayfarer. 

The Turks consider public works of this kind the 
noblest sort of almsgiving, inasmuch as they help not 
only everyone, but everyone equally. Not far from 
this spot Otmanlik was pointed out to us on our right 
— the retreat, as I imagine, of the famous Othman, 
founder of the family which bears his name. 

From this pass we descended into wide plains, 
where we spent our first night under tents, on account 
of the heat. The place was called Chiausada. Here 
we saw a subterranean house, which was lighted only 
by an opening in the roof. We saw also the famous 
goats ^ from whose fleece — or hair, if you like the word 
better — is woven the watered stuff known as mohair. 
The hair of these goats is extremely fine and marvel- 
lously flossy, hanging down to the very ground ; the 
goatherds do not shear it, but comb it off, and it is 
almost as beautiful as silk. The goats are frequently 
washed in running water. Their food is the scanty dry 
grass peculiar to these plains, and it is to this that the 
fineness of their coats is chiefly owing ; for it is an as- 
certained fact, that when the goats are removed else- 
where, their wool does not retain its silky character, 
but changes with the pasturage ; indeed, the whole 

' ' In the deep gullies and broad plateaus of Angora is bred the finest 
species of the mohair goat ; its long silky and lustrous fleece is the prin- 
cipal export of the country, so much so that it is a common saying that 
" mohair is the soul of Angora," without which it would have become a 
desert long ago. The mohair is forwarded on mule and camel back (in 
its raw state) to Constantinople, and thence, per steamer, to Liverpool ; it 
all finds its way to Bradford to be manufactured. The export in this 
article alone was valued at 462,550/. for the year 1877, and in years of 
greater prosperity and higher values, this amount has been nearly 
doubled.' Extract from the letter of the correspondent to the Standard 
newspaper, dated, Angora, October i, 1878. 



138 TURKISH LETTERS. 



animal degenerates to such an extent that one would 
scarcely recognise the breed. These fleeces, after 
being spun into thread by the women of the country, 
are taken to Angora,^ a city of Galatia, and there 
woven and dyed ; further on I will give you a de- 
scription of the process. In this locality is also to 
be found that curious breed of sheep with great fat 
tails ; indeed, their flocks consist of little else. The 
tails weigh from three or four to as much as eight 
or ten pounds \^ so big are the tails of some of the 
older sheep, that it is necessary to furnish them 
with a carriage for their support, which consists of a 
little board running on a pair of small wheels, so that 
the sheep may drag that which it cannot carry. This, 
perhaps, you will hardly believe, and yet I am telling you 
the truth. Now, while I fully admit that there is a 
certain advantage in these tails from the supply of fat 
which they yield, I must say I found the rest of the 
meat tough and wanting in flavour, as compared with 
ordinary mutton. The shepherds, who manage these 
flocks, never leave the pasture grounds by night or day, 
carrying their wives and children about with them in 
waggons, which they use as houses, except on certain 
occasions when they pitch small tents. These men 
wander to great distances, choosing plain, hillside, or 
valley, according to the season of the year and the state 
of the pasturage. 

I flatter myself that I discovered in this district 
some species of birds which our countrymen have 
never seen, nor even heard of. Amongst these is a 
kind of duck, which may fairly be classed among horn- 

' The province of Angora occupies almost the same area as the 
ancient Galatia. 

^ See Herodotus, iii. 1 13. These sheep are very common in Asia and 
Africa. Great numbers are to be found at the Cape of Good Hope, 
whence they are called ' Cape sheep.' 



TURKISH BURIAL PLACES. 139 

blowers, since its cry is exactly like the sound of a 
postman's horn. This bird, in spite of its inability to 
defend itself, is bold and saucy. The Turks believe 
that it can frighten evil spirits away. However that 
may be, it is so fond of its liberty that after being 
kept a good three years in a farm-yard, if it gets the 
opportunity, it prefers freedom and hunger to captivity 
and plenty, and flies off to its old haunts by the river. 

From Chiausada we came to Karaly, thence to 
Hazdengri, and so to Mazzotthoy. We then crossed 
the river Sangarius (Sakariyeh) which rises in Phrygia 
and flows into the Black Sea, to Mahathli, thence to 
Zugli, Chilancyck, Jalanchich, Potughin, and so to 
Angora (Ancyra) — which the Turks call Angur. 

We remained one day at Angora. As the weather 
was hot we made but short stages. Moreover, our 
Turks assured us that there was no need for hurry, as 
the Persian Ambassador was still lingering on the road, 
and the authorities wished us both to arrive at Amasia 
as nearly as possible at the same time. 

In none of the villages mentioned above did we see 
anything worth notice, save that, among the Turkish 
burial places we sometimes lighted on ancient columns, 
or blocks of fine marble, on which traces still remained 
of Greek and Roman inscriptions, but so mutilated 
that they could not be read. It was my amusement, 
on reaching our lodgings for the night, to inquire for 
ancient inscriptions, or coins of Greece or Rome, and, 
if these were not forthcoming, for rare plants. 

It is a practice of the Turks to cover in the tombs 
of their friends with huge stones, which they bring 
from a great distance. No earth is thrown upon the 
graves, and but for these stones they would lie open. 
They are intended to furnish the dead man with a 
convenient seat when he pleads his case, as he will 



MO TURKISH LETTERS. 



have to do — according to their notion— with his evil 
ang-el as his accuser and examiner, and his good angel 
as counsel for the defence. The object of placing a 
heavy stone on the grave is to protect the body from 
dogs, wolves, and other beasts ; the most pertinacious 
of which is the hyena, a creature often met with in 
these parts. It burrows its way into the graves, pulls 
out the bodies, and carries them off to its den, the 
mouth of which is marked by a huge heap of bones of 
men, horses, and other animals. The hyena is a 
creature not quite so tall as a wolf, but quite as long 
in body. ■ Its skin resembles that of a wolf, except that 
the hair is rougher, and it is also marked with large 
black spots ; the head is firmly attached to the back- 
bone, without any joint between, so that when it wants 
to look back it must turn right round. They say that 
it has, in the place of teeth, one continuous bone. 

The Turks, like the ancients, think that the hyena has 
great efficacy in love charms, and though there were 
two hyenas at Constantinople when I was there, the 
owners refused to sell them to me ; assigning as a 
reason that they were keeping them for the Sultana, 
i.e. the wife of the Sultan— the popular belief being 
that she retains her husband's affection by means of 
philtres and sorceries. Belon,^ I must tell you, is wrong 
in thinking that the civet cat is the same as the hyena. 

Now for one of the best jokes you ever heard 

' Pierre Belon (Bellonus) was a contemporary of Busbecq's, having 
been born about 15 18. He travelled in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, 
Palestine, and Asia Minor. By profession a physician, he devoted him- 
self to the pursuit of Natural Science. He published several books, and 
is generally considered to have been the founder of the science of Com- 
parative Anatomy. Busbecq corrects Belon, but his own account of the 
hyena is wrong. It has vertebrse in the neck, and also an array of teeth. 
If he had been able to procure a specimen we should have had an ac- 
curate description. The Sultana, therefore, is indirectly responsible for 
the errors. 



HYENAS. 141 

in your life. I will tell you the story just as I had it 
from the lips of the natives. They say that the hyena, 
which they call Zirtlan, understands the language of 
men (the ancients, by the way, said that it also imitated 
it), and that it is therefore captured in the following 
way. The hunters go to its den, which is not hard to 
find, being marked by a heap of bones, as I mentioned 
before. One of them enters with a rope, one end 
of which he leaves in the hands of his friends outside 
the cave. He creeps in, saying, ' Joctur, joctur ucala,' 
that is, ' I cannot find it; it is not here.' Meantime, 
imagining from what he says that its hiding-place is 
not discovered, the beast remains perfectly still, until 
the hunter has succeeded in attaching the rope to 
its leg, shouting out all the time ' that the hyena is not 
there.' Then, with the same words, he goes back, and 
as soon as he has got out of the den he shouts out at 
the top of his voice that the hyena is inside ; the 
creature, understanding what he says, makes a rush to 
escape, but all in vain, the hunters hold him fast by 
the rope round his leg. After this fashion they say it is 
killed ; or, if pains be taken, it may be captured alive ; 
but this is a difficult matter, for it is a fierce brute, 
and makes a stout resistance. So much for the hyena. 

We found, in some places, ancient coins in great 
abundance, especially those of the later emperors, Con- 
stantinus, Constans, Justinus, Valens, Valentinianus, Nu- 
merianus, Probus, Tacitus, &c. I n many places the Turks 
used them for the drachm and half-drachm weights. 
They call them 'giaur manguri,' or, ' the infidel's money.' 

There were, besides, many coins of the neighbour- 
ing cities of Asia, Amysus, Sinope, Comana, Amastris, 
and lastly, some of Amasia, the city to which we were 
going. Talking of coins, a coppersmith roused my 
anger by telling me, when I inquired for coins, that a 



142 TURKISH LETTERS. 



few days before he had had a whole potful of them, 
and that, thinking they were worthless, he had melted 
them down, and made several copper kettles out of 
the metal. I was greatly vexed at the destruction of 
so many interesting relics; but I had my revenge. I 
informed him that, if he had not destroyed the coins, I 
would have given him a hundred gold pieces for them. 
So I sent him away quite as unhappy at the loss of the 
windfall which he had been so near getting, as I was at 
the sacrifice of these records of antiquity. 

We did not meet with many new botanical speci- 
mens on the road. The plants were, for the most 
part, identical with those in our country ; the only 
difference being that they grew more or less luxuriantly, 
according to the nature of the soil. 

We sought unsuccessfully for the balsam tree, 
which Dioscorides tells us is indigenous in Pontus, so 
that I cannot tell whether the stock has died out, or 
migrated to another country. 

Angora formed our nineteenth halting place from 
Constantinople. It is a town of Galatia, and was, at one 
time, the head-quarters of the Tectosages, a Gallic 
tribe. Pliny and Strabo both mention it, but it is 
not improbable that the present city covers only a part 
of the ancient town. The Kanuns^ call it Anquira. 

Here we saw a very beautiful inscription,^ containing 

' The Kanuns formed a kind of Domesday Book, drawn up by the 
direction of Solyman, who thence received the name of Solyman 
Kanuni. 

^ A full account of the inscription is to be found in Merivale's History 
of the Romans, chap, xxxviii. 'Augustus employed the next few months 
in compiling a succinct memorial of his public acts to be preserved in 
the archives of the state, a truly imperial work, and probably unique of 
its kind. The archives of Rome have long mouldered in the dust but a 
ruined wall in a remote corner of her empire, engraved with this precious 
document, has been faithful to its trust for eighteen hundred years and 
still presents us with one of the most curious records of antiquity. The 



MONUMENTUM ANCYRANUM. 143 



a copy of the tablets in which Augustus gave a summary 
of his achievements. We made our people copy out as 
much as was legible. It is engraven on the marble walls 
of a building now ruinous and roofless, which formerly 
may have formed the official residence of the governor. 
As you enter the building one half of the inscription is 
on the right, and the other on the left. The top lines 
are nearly perfect; in the middle the gaps begin to 
present difficulties ; the lowest lines are so mutilated 
with blows of clubs and axes as to be illegible. This 
is indeed a great literary loss, and one which scholars 
have much reason to regret ; the more so as it is an 
ascertained fact that Ancyra was dedicated' to Augustus 
as the common gift of Asia, 

Here we also saw how the famous watered stuff, or 
mohair, which is woven of the hair of the goats I have 
already described, is dyed ; and how, when water has 
been poured on, it takes those waves from the action of 
the press, from which it derives its name, and for which 
it is prized. The stuff which bears the mark of a very 
large wave, and keeps its pattern, is considered the 
best ; but if, in any part, smaller and uneven waves 
occur, although the colour and material be precisely 
the same, it is worth less by several gold pieces on 
account of the flaw. Elderly men among the Turks, 

inscription, which may still be read in the portico of a temple at Ancyra, 
attests the energy, sagacity, and fortune of the second Csesar in a detailed 
register of all his public undertakings through a period of fifty-eight 
years,' &c. In a note Dr. Merivale states that it was first copied by 
Busbecq in 1544. This is incorrect ; Busbecq had it copied by his ser- 
vants, and the date should be 1555. 

' ' Reges amici atque socii, et singuli in suo quisque regno, Casareas 
urbes condiderunt ; et cuncti simul asdem Jovis Olympii, Athenis anti- 
quitus inchoatam, perficere communi sumptu destinaverunt, genioque 
ejus dedicare.'— Suetonius, Octavius, chap. Ix. Augustus directed a de- 
cree granting especial privileges to the Jews to be inscribed eV eVio-v/^ordro) 

T6T!(fyivr)6kvri. ^oi vnh Toi Koivoi T^s 'Aalas iv 'AyKi5p_>;.— Josephus, Antiqui- 
ties, xvi. 6. 



144 TURKISH LETTERS. 

when they are of high rank, are generally distin- 
guished by dresses made of this material. Solyman 
prefers it to any other dress for state occasions, wear- 
ing that which is of a green colour ; a hue which, 
according to our notions, is hardly becoming to a man 
of advanced years ; but their religion, and the example 
of their prophet Mahomet, who wore it constantly, 
even in his old age, gives it favour in the eyes of the 
Turks. Among them black is considered a mean and 
unlucky colour, and for any one in Turkey to appear 
dressed in black is held to be ominous of disaster and 
evil. On some occasions the Pashas would express 
their astonishment at our going to them in black 
clothes, and make it a ground for serious remonstrance. 
No one in Turkey goes abroad in black unless he be 
completely ruined, or in great grief for some terrible 
disaster. Purple is highly esteemed, but in time of 
war it is considered ominous of a bloody death. The 
lucky colours are white, orange, light blue, violet, 
mouse colour, &c. In this, and other matters, the 
Turks pay great attention to auguries and omens. It 
is a well-known fact that a Pasha has sometimes been 
dismissed from office because his horse stumbled, 
under the idea that it portended some great misfortune, 
and that, if the man were removed from his office, it • 
would fall on a private individual, and not on the 

state. 

From Angora we came to the village of Balygazar, 
thence to Zarekuct, next to Zermeczii, after which we 
arrived at the bank of the river Halys (Kizil Irmak). 

As we crossed the country towards the village of 
Algeos, we had a distant view of the mountains near 
Sinope. They have a red appearance from the red 
chalk which takes its name from Sinope. 

Here is the famous Halys, once the boundary be- 



FISHING IN THE HAIYS. 145 



tween the kingdoms of Media and Lydia, about which 
the ancient prophecy said that ' Croesus, if he crossed 
the Halys to make war on the Persians, would de- 
stroy a mighty realm '—but he did not know that the 
realm he was to destroy was his own. On the bank 
was a copse of trees, which at first excited our atten- 
tion, as we thought we had discovered a new kind of 
fruit tree ; but we soon became aware that it was the 
liquorice tree, and gorged ourselves with the juice from 
its roots. 

It happened that a country fellow was standing 
there, so we asked him through an interpreter whether 
there were plenty of fish in the river, and how they 
were caught. His answer was, that there were plenty 
of fish, but that it was impossible to catch them. When 
we expressed our surprise at this intelligence, the man 
explained the matter thus : ' Well, if anyone tries to 
put his hand on one of these fish, they jump away, and 
will not wait for him to catch them.' 

On a former occasion, when we met with some 
birds of a species unknown to us, and asked how they 
could be caught, another fellow declared that ' it was 
impossible to catch them, because, when anyone tried 
to lay hold of them, they flew away.' One of my 
colleagues, Francis Zay, had with him nets, which he 
ordered to be unpacked with a view to fishing. 
Amongst other fish, we caught the common Danube 
shad. There are also crabs in the Halys in large 
numbers, which, if they are not sea crabs, are, at any 
rate, very like them. 

The Turks, who stood by, were amazed at the great 
pains we Christians took in fishing. ' How so,' you 
will say, ' are there no fishermen in Turkey ? ' Well, 
there are some, but in those districts they are very rare. 
I remember, in another place, we were greeted with 

VOL. I. L 



146 TURKISH LETTERS. 

roars of lauehter when we drew off the water of a 
stream and captured a quantity of gudgeons. They 
were greatly amused at our fishing for anything so 
small, and could not make out what gain or advan- 
tage we expected to get from them. The foolish 
fellows did not understand that a large supply of these 
little fishes enabled us to prepare big dishes of stew 
sufficient to dine a great many people. 

But these Turks live so sparingly, and care so 
little for the pleasures of the table, that if they have 
bread and salt with an onion or leek, or a kind of 
sour milk which Galen mentions by the name of 
oxygala, and they call yoghoort, they are quite content. 
They mix this milk with very cold water, and crumble 
bread into it, using it when the heat is overpowering, 
to allay their thirst. We, too, often found this drink 
most useful in hot weather, for not only is it very 
pleasant and wholesome, but it also has, to a re- 
markable degree, the power of quenching thirst. 

At all the caravanserais (or Turkish inns, as I ex- 
plained before) there is plenty of it for sale, and other 
relishes are also to be bought. For the Turks do not, 
when travelling, require hot dishes or meat ; their 
relishes are sour milk, cheese, dried prunes, pears, 
peaches, quinces, figs, raisins, cornel berries. Dainties of 
this description are set out for sale on great pans of 
earthenware, having been first boiled in plain water. 
Each man buys what he fancies most, and eats the 
fruit with his bread by way of a relish ; when he 
has finished the fruit he drinks the water. Thus 
these men's food and drink costs them very litde, 
so little, indeed, that I would venture to say that 
one of our people will spend more on his food in one 
day than a Turk does in twelve. Moreover their yearly 
feasts generally consist only of cakes and buns, and other 



SHERBET. 147 



confectionery, with several dishes of rice, to which they 
add mutton and chickens— not capons,^ for poultry of 
that kind is unknown to the Turks. As to pheasants, 
thrushes, becaficos, &c., they have never even heard 
them mentioned. If honey or sugar be mixed with their 
draught of water, they would not envy Jove his nectar. 

I must not, however, pass over one kind of drink, 
if I am to give you a full account. They take raisins 
and have them ground ; when ground and pounded 
they throw them into a wooden vessel, and pour over 
them a certain proportion of hot water and mix them up ; 
they then cover the vessel carefully, and leave the liquor 
to ferment for a couple of days ; if the fermentation is 
not sufficiently active they add the lees of wine. If you 
taste it when first it begins to ferment, it seems insipid 
and disagreeably sweet ; afterwards it gets a kind of 
acid flavour; in this stage it is extremely palatable 
when mixed with the sweet liquor. For three or four 
days it forms a most pleasant drink, especially when 
cooled with plenty of snow, of which there is an unfail- 
ing supply at Constantinople. They call it 'Arab 
sherbet,' i.e. ' the drink of the Arabs.' But after three 
or four days it is spoilt, and gets quite sour. In this 
stage it affects the head, and makes people stago-er 
quite as much as wine, and on this account is con- 
demned by the religious laws of the Turks. I must 
confess that I thought sherbet a most pleasant drink. 

I found also the grapes, which in many places they 
keep till the summer, most refreshing at times. The 
following is their method of preserving them, as I 
took it down from their lips : — They select a bunch 
in which the grapes are of a good size and fully ripe, a 
condition which is easily brought about by the sun in 

' Menin (near Bousbecque) and its neighbourhood were famous for 
their capons. See L. Guicciardini, Description de tout le Pais bas, p. 3 1 1. 

L 2 



148 TURKISH LETTERS. 

Turkey. This bunch they put into a vessel of wood or 
earthenware, after first covering the bottom with a good 
layer of ground mustard ; on the top of this they put 
the grapes ; then they pour the mustard flour in gra- 
dually, so as to pack the grapes in it ; lastly, having 
filled the vessel with grapes up to the top, they end by 
pouring in unfermented wine as fresh as possible ; this 
done, they shut up the vessel and keep it till the hot 
summer weather sets in, when people are thirsty, and 
refreshment of this kind is acceptable. They then 
unseal the vessel, and put out the grapes for sale, 
together with the sauce, which last the Turks like 
quite as well as the grapes themselves. But the 
flavour of mustard was not at all to my taste, so I had 
my grapes carefully washed. I found them very re- 
freshing and wholesome during the great heats. 

You must not be surprised at my gratefully record- 
ing in my letter to you the things which proved bene- 
ficial to myself, for you will remember that the 
Egyptians carried this feeling to such an absurd length, 
that they worshipped as gods the vegetables of their 
own gardens from which they had derived benefit. 

But it is high time for me to return to my road. 
Leaving the bank of the Halys (which the Turks, I 
think, call Aitoczu) wecame to Goukurthoy, and thence 
to Choron (Chorum), and after this to Theke Thiol 
(Tekiyeh). Here there is a famous monastery of 
Turkish monks, or dervishes, from whom we learned 
a great deal about a hero named Chederle, a man of 
great prowess and courage, whom they try to identify 
with our St. George, ascribing to him the same feats as 
we claim for our saint — to wit, that he saved a maiden, 
who had been given up to a fierce and terrible dragon, 
by slaying the monster ; to this they add many other 
stories of their own invention, telling how their hero 



CHEDERLE. 



149 



was wont to wander through distant lands, and at last 
came to a river whose waters gave immortality to those 
that drank thereof. 

They do not mention the geographical position of 
this river (methinks it ought to be marked down in 
Dreamland) ; all they tell me is that it is concealed 
beneath a covering of deep darkness and thick night, 
and that no mortal since Chederle has had the luck to 
see it ; but that Chederle himself, being released from 
the laws of death, rides to and fro on a gallant steed, 
which, like its master, has, by a draught of this same 
water, purged itself of mortal dross. They represent 
him as one who loves the battle shock, and helps in 
war those who are in the right, and those who have 
invoked his aid, of whatever faith they may be. These 
tales seem absurd, but I will tell you one still more 
ridiculous. They declare that he was one of the com- 
panions and friends of Alexander the Great. The 
Turks have not the slightest idea of chronology, or of 
different epochs, and they mix up together in a won- 
derful way all historical events. Should the thought 
occur to them, they have no hesitation in stating 
that Job was king Solomon's seneschal, and Alexander 
the Great commander-in-chief of his armies. Even 
these are not the greatest of their absurdities. 

There is in the mosque (as the Turks call their 
temples) a fountain of choice marble, fed by a spring 
of the purest water ; and this they believe to have 
been miraculously produced by Chederle's steed. They 
have many stories also about Chederle's comrades, his 
groom and his sister's son, whose tombs they show in 
the neighbourhood. They tried hard to persuade us 
that miracles daily took place for the benefit of those 
who come to these tombs to ask for aid. They firmly 
believed, moreover, that chips of stone and earth taken 



15° TURKISH LETTERS. 



from the spot, where Chederle stood waiting for the 
dragon, were, when mixed with water, efficacious 
against fever, headache, and diseases of the eye. I 
must tell you that the neighbourhood is full of snakes 
and vipers ; they are so numerous that some places in 
the hot hours positively swarm with the venomous 
beasts, who are basking in the sun, to such an ex- 
tent that men dare not approach them. I must not 
forget to tell you that the Turks shake with laughter 
when they see in the Greek churches pictures o1" St. 
George, whom they declare to be their own Chederle, 
with a boy sitting on the haunches of his masters 
steed, mixing wine and water for him— for this is the 
manner in which St. George is painted by the Greeks. 

But our journey has been long and we must 
shortly rest. There was now only one stage, namely 
Baglison (Baglijah), between us and our destination, 
Amasia, which last we reached on April 7, thirty 
days after our departure from Constantinople. As we 
drew near we were met by some Turks, who came 
to congratulate us on our arrival, and to do us the 
compliment of escorting us into the city. 

Amasia is the chief town of Cappadocia, and there 
the governor of the province is wont to hold his courts, 
and to keep the main body of his troops. But even 
from the time of Bajazet the place seemed in some 
mysterious fashion to be associated with misfortune, 
and that this idea was not groundless is proved by the 
miserable end of Mustapha. Strabo tells us that this 
was his native place. The town lies between two 
ranges of hills, and the river Iris (Yeshil-Irmak) flows 
through its centre ; so that both banks are covered 
with houses, which rise gradually up the sides of the 
hills, like the tiers of seats in a theatre ; every part of 
the town therefore commands a view of the river, and 



TURKISH INCENDIARIES. 151 

those who Uve on one side of the town are completely- 
exposed to the eyes of those who Hve on the other. 
It is, indeed, so hemmed in by hills that there is only 
one road by which carriages and beasts of burden can 
enter or leave the city. 

On the night of our arrival there was a great fire, 
which the Janissaries extinguished after their own 
fashion by pulling down the neighbouring buildings. 
How it arose I cannot say, but there is no doubt 
that the soldiers have good reasons for wishing for 
fires, for, inasmuch as they are employed to put them 
out, and in most cases this is only effected by pull- 
ing down the neighbouring houses, as I told you 
before, they pillage, not only the goods and chattels 
of the people whose houses are on fire, but also those 
of their neighbours as well. So the soldiers them- 
selves are often guilty of incendiarism in order to get 
an opportunity of plundering the houses. 

I remember an instance of this when I was at Con- 
stantinople. There had been a great many fires, and 
it was quite certain that they were not accidental, yet 
the incendiaries were never caught. Most people laid 
the blame on Persian spies ; but at length, after a more 
careful investigation, it was discovered that they were 
the work of marines from ships lying in the harbour, 
who set fire to the houses in order to cover a raid on 
the goods of the neighbourhood. 

On the highest of the hills which overhang Amasia 
there is a citadel of respectable strength, which is per- 
manently occupied by the Turks, either to overawe 
the tribes of Asia, who (as I shall explain later) are not 
over well disposed towards their Turkish masters, or 
to hold the Persians in check ; for, great as the dis- 
tance is, they have sometimes extended their raids as 
far as Amasia. 



^52 TURKISH LETTERS. 



On this hill are many traces of ancient monuments, 
possibly those of the kings of Cappadocia themselves.' 
But neither the houses nor streets of Amasia have any 
beauty to attract one's notice. The houses are built 
of white clay, almost in the same fashion as those in 
Spain ; even the roofs are made of this material, being 
flat without any gable. They use a fragment of some 
ancient pillar for a roller, and when any part of the 
roof is damaged by rain or wind, they pull this roller 
backwards and forwards until the roof is once more 
solid and smooth. In summer time the inhabitants 
sleep on these roofs in the open air. In these districts 
ram does not fall either often or heavily ; but when it 
does come down, the clothes of the people walking m 
the streets are terribly soiled by the mud which drips 
everywhere from the roofs. On a house top near our 
lodgmgs I saw a young Sanjak-bey eating his supper on 
a couch after the fashion of the ancients. 

On our arrival at Amasia we were taken to call on 
Achmet Pasha (the chief Vizier) and the other pashas— 
for the Sultan himself was not then in the town— and 
commenced our negotiations with them touching the 
business entrusted to us by King Ferdinand. ''The 
Pashas, on their part, apparently wishing to avoid any 
semblance of being prejudiced with regard to these 
questions, did not offer any strong opposition to the 
views we expressed, and told us that the whole matter 
depended on the Sultan's pleasure. On his arrival we 
were admitted to an audience; but the manner and 
spirit in which he listened to our address, our argu- 
ments, and our message, was by no means favourable. 
The Sultan was seated on a very low ottoman, not 
more than a foot from the ground, which was covered 
with a quantity of costly rugs and cushions of exquisite 
workmanship ; near him lay his bow and arrows. His 



THE AUDIENCE. 153 

air, as I said, was by no means gracious, and his face 
wore a stern, though dignified, expression. 

On entering we were separately conducted into the 
royal presence by the chamberlains, who grasped our 
arms. This has been the Turkish fashion of admitting 
people to the Sovereign ever since a Croat,^ in order to 
avenge the death of his master, Marcus, Despot of 
Servia, asked Amurath for an audience, and took 
advantage of it to slay him. After having gone through 
a pretence of kissing his hand, we were conducted 
backwards to the wall opposite his seat, care being 
taken that we should never turn our backs on him. 
The Sultan then listened to what I had to say ; but 
the language I held was not at all to his taste, for 
the demands of his Majesty breathed a spirit of inde- 
pendence and dignity, which was by no means accept- 
able to one who deemed that his wish was law ; and 
so he made no answer beyond saying in a tetchy way, 
' Giusel, giusel,' i.e. well, well. After this we were 
dismissed to our quarters. 

The Sultan's hall was crowded with people, among 
whom were several officers of high rank. Besides 
these there were all the troopers of the Imperial guard,''' 

' There are different versions of this story, see Von Hammer, book v. 
and Gibbon, chap. Ixiv. Creasy says that Amurath was killed by a 
Servian noble, Milosch Kabilovitsch. Being mortally wounded, Amurath 
died in the act of sentencing Lazarus, Despot or Cral of Servia, to death. ' 

' The permanent corps of paid cavalry in the Turkish army was 
divided into four squadrons, organised like those which the Caliph Omar 
instituted for the guard of the Sacred Standard. The whole corps at 
first consisted of only 2,400 horsemen, but under Solyman the Great 
(Busbecq's Sultan), the number was raised to 4,000. They marched on 
the right and left of the Sultan, they camped round his tent at night, and 
were his bodyguard in battle. One of these regiments of Royal Horse- 
guards was called the Turkish Spahis, a term applied to cavalry soldiers 
generally, but also specially denoting these select horseguards. Another 
regiment was called the Silihdars, meaning 'the vassal cavalry.' A third 
was called the Ouloufedgis, meaning 'the paid horsemen,' and the fourth 



154 TURKISH LETTERS. 



Spahis, Ghourebas, Ouloufedgis, and a large force of 
Janissaries ; but there was not in all that great assem- 
bly a single man who owed his position to aught save 
his valour and his merit. No distinction is attached 
to birth among the Turks ; the deference to be paid 
to a man is measured by the position he holds in the 
public service. There is no fighting for precedence ; 
a man's place is marked out by the duties he dis- 
charges. In making his appointments the Sultan 
pays no regard to any pretensions on the score of 
wealth or rank, nor does he take into consideration 
recommendations or popularity; he considers each 
case on its own merits, and examines carefully into the 
character, ability, and disposition of the man whose 
promotion is in question. It is by merit that men rise 
in the service, a system which ensures that posts should 
only be assigned to the competent. Each man in 
Turkey carries in his own hand his ancestry and his 
position in life, which he may make or mar as he will. 
Those who receive the highest offices from the Sultan 
are for the most part the sons of shepherds or herds- 
men, and so far from being ashamed of their parentage, 
they actually glory in it, and consider it a matter of 
boasting that they owe nothing to the accident of 
birth ; for they do not believe that high qualities are 
either natural or hereditary, nor do they think that 
they can be handed down from father to son, but that 
they are partly the gift of God, and pardy the result 
of good training, great industry, and unwearied zeal ; 
arguing that high qualities do not descend from a 
father to his son or heir, any more than a talent for 
music, mathematics, or the like; and that the mind 
does not derive its origin from the father, so that the 

was called the Ghourebas, meaning ' the foreign horse.' See Creasy, His- 
tory of the Ottoman Turks, chap. ii. 



PROMOTION IN TURKEY. 155 

son should necessarily be like the father in character, 
but emanates from heaven, and is thence infused into 
the human body. Among the Turks, therefore, 
honours, high posts, and judgeships are the rewards 
of great ability and good service. If a man be dis- 
honest, or lazy, or careless, he remains at the bottom 
of the ladder, an object of contempt ; for such qualities 
there are no honours in Turkey ! 

This is the reason that they are successful in their 
undertakings, that they lord it over others, and are 
daily extending the bounds of their empire. These 
are not our ideas, with us there is no opening left for 
merit ; birth is the standard for everything ; the pres- 
tige of birth is the sole key to advancement in the 
public service. But on this head I shall perhaps have 
more to say to you in another place, and you must 
consider what I have said as strictly private. 

For the nonce, take your stand by my side, and look 
at the sea of turbaned heads, each wrapped in twisted 
folds of the whitest silk ; look at those marvellously 
handsome dresses of every kind and every colour ; time 
would fail me to tell how all around is glittering with 
gold, with silver, with purple, with silk, and with velvet ; 
words cannot convey an adequate idea of that strange 
and wondrous sight : it was the most beautiful spectacle 
I ever saw. 

With all this luxury great simplicity and economy 
are combined ; every man's dress, whatever his position 
may be, is of the same pattern ; no fringes or useless 
points are sewn on, as is the case with us, appendages 
which cost a great deal of money, and are worn out in 
three days. In Turkey the tailor's bill for a silk or 
velvet dress, even though it be richly embroidered, as 
most of them are, is only a ducat. They were quite as 
much surprised at our manner of dressing as we were 



15^ TURKISH LETTERS. 



at theirs. They use long robes reaching down to the 
ankles, which have a stately effect and add to the 
wearer's height, while our dress is so short and scanty 
that it leaves exposed to view more than is comely of 
the human shape ; besides, somehow or other, our 
fashion of dress seems to take from the wearer's height, 
and make him look shorter than he really is.' 

I was greatly struck with the silence and order 
that prevailed in this great crowd. There were no 
cries, no hum of voices, the usual accompaniments of. 
a motley gathering, neither was there any jostling; 
without the slightest disturbance each man took his 
proper place according to his rank. The Agas, as 
they call their chiefs, were seated, to wit, generals, 
colonels (bimbaschi), and captains (soubaschi).^ Men of 
a lower position stood. The most interesting sight in 
this assembly was a body of several thousand Janis- 
saries, who were drawn up in a long line apart from 
the rest; their array was so steady and motionless 
that, being at a little distance, it was some time before 
I could make up my mind as to whether they were 
human beings or statues ; at last I received a hint to 
salute them, and saw all their heads bending at the 
same moment to return my bow. On leaving the 
assembly we had a fresh treat in the sight of the 
household cavalry returning to their quarters ; the men 
were mounted on splendid horses, excellently groomed, 
and gorgeously accoutred. And so we left the royal 
presence, taking with us but little hope of a successful 
issue to our embassy. 

^ By May lo the Persian Ambassador had arrived, 
bringing with him a number of handsome presents^ 
carpets from famous looms, Babylonian tents, the inner 

' Evelyn, who no doubt took the hint from Busbecq, induced Charles 
II. to adopt the Eastern dress. Diary, p. 324. 



A STATE DINNER. 157 

sides of which were covered with coloured tapestries, 
trappings and housings of exquisite workmanship, 
jewelled scimitars from Damascus, and shields most 
tastefully designed ; but the chief present of all was 
a copy of the Koran, a gift highly prized among the 
Turks ; it is a book containing the laws and rites en- 
acted by Mahomet, which they suppose to be inspired. 

Terms of peace were immediately granted to the 
Persian Ambassador with the intention of putting 
greater pressure on us, who seemed likely to be the 
more troublesome of the two ; and in order to convince 
us of the reality of the peace, honours were showered 
on the representative of the Shah. In all cases, as I 
have already remarked, the Turks run to extremes, 
whether it be in honouring a friend, or in pouring 
contempt and insult on a foe. Ali Pasha, the second 
Vizier, gave the Persian suite a dinner in his gardens, 
which were some way from our quarters, with the 
river between, but still we could command a view of 
the place where they dined, for, as I told you before, 
the city is so situated on the hill sides that there 
is hardly a spot in it from which you cannot see and 
be seen. Ali Pasha, I must tell you, is by birth a 
Dalmatian, he is a thorough gentleman, and has (what 
you will be surprised to hear of in a Turk) a kind and 
feeling heart. 

The table at which the Pashas and the Ambassador 
were seated was protected by an awning. A hundred 
pages all dressed alike acted as waiters ; their method 
of bringing the dishes to table was as follows. 

First they advanced toward the table where the 
guests were seated, following each other at equal dis- 
tances. Their hands were empty, as otherwise they 
would not have been able to make their obeisance, 
which was performed by their putting them on their 



iS8 TURKISH LETTERS. 

thighs, and bending their heads to the earth. Their 
bows being made, the page who stood nearest the 
kitchen began taking the dishes and handing them 
on to the next, who deHvered them to the page 
next him, and so down the row until they reached the 
page who stood nearest the table, from whose hands 
the chief butler received them and placed them on the 
board. After this fashion a hundred dishes or more 
streamed (if I may use the expression) on to the table 
without the slightest confusion. When the dinner was 
served the pages again did reverence to the guests, 
and then returned in the same order as they had come, 
the only difference being that those who had been last 
as they came were the first as they retired, and that 
those who were nearest the table now brought up the 
rear. All the other courses were brought on to the 
table after the same fashion, a circumstance showing 
how much regard the Turks pay to order even in 
trifles, while we neglect it in matters of extreme im- 
portance. Not far from the Ambassador's table his 
retinue was feasting with some Turks. 

Peace having been concluded with the Persian, as 
I have already told you, it was impossible for us to 
obtain any decent terms from the Turk ; all we could 
accomplish was to arrange a six months' truce to give 
time for a reply to reach Vienna, and for the answer 
to come back. 

I had come to fill the position of ambassador in 
ordinary ; but inasmuch as nothing had been as yet 
settled as to a peace, the Pashas determined that I 
should return to my master with Solyman's letter, and 
bring back an answer, if it pleased the King to send 
one. Accordingly I had another interview with the 
Sultan ; two embroidered robes of ample size, and 
reaching down to the ankles, were thrown over my 



so LYMAN THE GREAT. 159 

shoulders (they were as much as I could carry). All 
my people were likewise presented with silk dresses of 
different colours, which they wore as they marched in 
my train. 

With this procession I advanced as if I was going 
to act the part of Agamemnon ^ or some other monarch 
of ancient tragedy. Having received the Sultan's 
letter, which was sealed up in a wrapper of cloth of 
gold, I took my leave ; the gentlemen among my 
attendants were also allowed to enter and make their 
bow to him. Then having paid my respects in the 
same way to the Pashas I left Amasia with my col- 
leagues on June 2, 

It is customary to give a breakfast in the Divan (as 
they call the place where the Pashas hold their court), 
to ambassadors on the eve of their departure, but this 
is only done when they represent friendly govern- 
ments, and no peace had as yet been arranged with us. 

You will probably wish me to give you my im- 
pressions of Solyman. 

His years are just beginning to tell on him, but his 
majestic bearing and indeed his whole demeanour are 
such as beseem the lord of so vast an empire. He 
has always had the character of being a careful and 
temperate man ; even in his early days, when, accord- 
ing to the Turkish rule, sin would have been venial, 
his life was blameless ; for not even in youth did he 
either indulge in wine or commit those unnatural 
crimes which are common among the Turks; nor 
could those who were disposed to put the most un- 
favourable construction on his acts bring anything 
worse against him than his excessive devotion to his 
wife, and the precipitate way in which, by her influence, 
he was induced to put Mustapha to death ; for it is 

' See page 102 and note i. 



t6o TURKISH LETTERS. 

commonly believed that it was by her philtres and 
witchcraft that he was led to commit this act. As 
regards herself, it is a well-known fact that from the 
time he made her his lawful wife he has been perfectly 
faithful to her, although there was nothing in the laws 
to prevent his having mistresses as well. As an up- 
holder of his religion and its rites he is most strict, 
being quite as anxious to extend his faith as to extend 
his empire. Considering his years (for he is now get- 
ting on for sixty) he enjoys good health, though it may 
be that his bad complexion arises from some lurking 
malady. There is a notion current that he has an 
incurable ulcer or cancer on his thigh. When he is 
anxious to impress an ambassador, who is leaving, 
with a favourable idea of the state of his health, 
he conceals the bad complexion of his face under a 
coat of rouge, his notion being that foreign powers will 
fear him more if they think that he is strong and well. 
I detected unmistakable signs of this practice of his ; 
for I observed his face when he gave me a farewell 
audience, and found it was much altered from what it 
was when he received me on my arrival. 

June was at its hottest when we began our journey; 
the heat was too much for me, and a fever was the 
consequence, accompanied by headache and catarrh. 
The attack, though mild and of an intermittent kind, 
was a lingering one, and I did not get rid of it till I 
reached Constantinople. 

On the day of our departure the Persian Ambas- 
sador also left Amasia, setting out by the same road 
as ourselves ; for, as I mentioned before, there is only 
one road by which the city can be entered or left, since 
the rugged character of the surrounding hills makes it 
difficult of access on every other side ; the road shortly 
branches off in two directions, one leads eastward and 



RETURN TO CONSTANTINOPLE. i6r 



the other westward ; the Persians took the former and 
we the latter. 

As we left Amasia we could see everywhere 
throughout the broad plains the lines of the Turkish 
camps crowded with tents. 

There is no need for me to waste your time with a 
description of our return journey, since we traversed 
almost the same ground, and made nearly the same 
halts as we had done in comine, save that we travelled 
somewhat quicker, and occasionally got over two of 
our former stages in one day. Thus we reached Con- 
stantinople on June 24, and I will leave you to picture 
to yourself the wear and tear of the journey to one 
suffering like myself from a lingering fever. I re- 
turned worn to a shadow; however, after a time, 
having had some rest and gone through a course of 
warm baths, recommended by my physician Quacquel- 
ben, I soon recovered strength. He also soused me 
with cold water on leaving the bath ; I cannot say it 
was pleasant, but it did me a great deal of good. 

Whilst I was still at Constantinople a man who 
had come from the Turkish camp told me an anecdote 
which I shall be glad to include in my letter, as it 
illustrates the great dislike which the natives of Asia 
entertain to the religion ^ and supremacy of the Otto- 

' See Creasy, History of the Ottoman Turks, chap. viii. : ' The schism 
of the Sunnites and the Schiis (the first of whom acknowledge, and the 
last of whom repudiate the three immediate successors of the Prophet, 
the Caliphs Abubeker, Omar, and Othman) had distracted the Ottoman 
world from the earliest times. The Ottoman Turks have been Sunnites. 
The contrary tenets have prevailed in Persia ; and the great founder of 
the Saffide dynasty in that country, Shah Ismael, was as eminent for his 
zeal for the Schii tenets, as for his ability in council, and his valour in the 
field. The doctrine of the Schiis had begun to spread among the sub- 
jects of the Sublime Porte before Selim came to the throne ; and though 
the Sultan, the Ulema, and by far the larger portion of the Ottomans, 
held strictly to the orthodoxy of Sunnism, the Schiis were numerous, 
in every province, and they seemed to be rapidly gaining proselytes, 

VOL. I. M 



1 62 TURKISH LETTERS. 

mans. He informed me that Solyman, as he was re- 
turning, was entertained by a certain Asiatic and spent 
the night in his house. When the Sultan had left, the 
man considering it to have been polluted and defiled by 
the presence of such a guest, had it purified with 
holy water, fumigation, and religious rites. When Soly- 
man heard of this insult to himself he ordered the man 
to be executed, and his house razed to the ground. 
So he paid heavily for his dislike to the Turks and 
partiality for the Persians. 

After a delay of fourteen days at Constantinople, 
for the purpose of recruiting my strength, I set out for 
Vienna. But the beginning of my journey was 
marked by an evil chance. Just as I left Constanti- 
nople I met some waggons of boys and girls who 
were being carried from Hungary to the slave market 
at Constantinople ; this is the commonest kind of 
Turkish merchandise, and just as loads of different 
kinds of goods meet the traveller's eye, as he leaves 
Antwerp, so every now and then we came across 
unhappy Christians of all ranks, ages, and sexes 
who were being carried off to a horrible slavery ; the 
men, young and old, were either driven in gangs or 
bound to a chain and dragged over the road in a long 
file, after the same fashion as we take a string of 
horses to a fair. It was indeed a painful sight ; and I 
could scarce check my tears, so deeply did I feel the 
woes and humiliation of Christendom. 

Selim determined to crush heresy at home before he went forth to combat 
it abroad, and in a deliberate spirit of fanatic cruelty he planned and exe- 
cuted a general slaughter of such of his subjects as were supposed to have 
fallen away from what their sovereigns considered to be the only true 
faith.' This massacre took place in 15 13. The Selim here mentioned 
was the father of Solyman. See Creasy, History of the Ottoma7i Tiirks, 
chap. viii. There was not much to choose between Philip of Spain in the 
West and Selim in the East ! See Motley, Dtitch Republic, part iii. 
chap. 2. 



THE PLAGUE. 163 



If this is not enough to make you think that my 
path was crossed with evil, I have something more to 
tell. My colleagues had placed under my care some 
members of their retinue who were tired of being in 
Turkey, in order that I might take them back with 
me. Well, when I had been two days on the road, I 
saw the head man of this party, whom they called their 
Voivode, riding in a waggon. He was ill, and on his 
foot was the plague ulcer, which he kept uncovered in 
order to relieve the pain. This circumstance made 
us all very uncomfortable, since we were afraid that, 
this disease being contagious, more of us would be 
attacked. 

On reaching Adrianople, which was not far off, the 
poor fellow's struggles were terminated by death. 
Then, as if the peril were not sufficiently great, the 
rest of the Hungarians seized the dead man's clothes ; 
one took his boots, another his doublet, another, for 
fear anything should be lost, snatches up his shirt, and 
another his linen ; though the risk was perfectly 
obvious, we could not stop them from endangering the 
lives of the whole party. My physician flew from one 
to another, imploring them for God's sake not to touch 
articles, contact with which would bring about certain 
death, but they were deaf to his prophecies. 

Well, on the second day after our departure from 
Adrianople, these same fellows crowded round my 
physician, asking him for something to cure their sick- 
ness, which they described as an attack of headache 
and general languor, accompanied with a feeling of 
deep depression ; on hearing of these symptoms my 
physician began to suspect that this was the first stao-e 
of the plague. He told them that 'he had not 
warned them without reason ; they had done their best 
to catch the plague, and they had caught it. In spite 



M 2 



1 64 TURKISH LETTERS. 

of their folly he would do what he could for them ; but 
what means had he of doctoring them in the middle 
of a journey, where no medicines could be procured.' 

On that very day, when, according to my custom 
on reaching our lodgings for the night, we had set out 
for a walk in search of interesting objects, I came 
across a herb in a meadow which I did not recognise. 
I pulled off some leaves and putting them to my nose 
perceived a smell like garlic ; I then placed them in 
the hands of my physician to see if he could recognise 
the plant. After a careful examination he pronounced 
it to be scordium,^ and raising his hands to heaven 
offered thanks to God for placing in his path, in the 
hour of our need, a remedy against the plague. He 
immediately collected a large supply, and throwing it 
into a big pot he placed it on the fire to boil ; he told 
the Hungarians to cheer up, and divided the brew 
amongst them, bidding them take it, when they went 
to bed, with Lemnian earth ^ and a diascordium ^ elec- 
tuary ; he recommended them also not to go to sleep 
until they had perspired profusely. They obeyed 
his directions and came to him again on the following 
day, telling him that they felt better. They asked for 
another dose of the same kind, and after drinking it 

' Scordium, or water germander, is mentioned in Salmon's Herbal as 
a sudorific, &c. ; he notices that it has a smell of garlic, and that it is a 
specific against ' measles, small-pox, and also the plague or pestilence 
itself. ' The plague is a form of blood poisoning ; a medical friend 
whom we consulted considered that the symptoms indicated only a mild 
form of the disease ; he also entirely approved of the physician's treat- 
ment of the case. 

^ See note page 254. 

^ An electuary is a medicine of a pasty consistence composed of 
various ingredients. The one mentioned in the text was invented by the 
celebrated physician Frascatorius. It contained scordium, from which 
its name is derived. The prescription for it may be found in Larousse's 
Dictiomiaire Universel, vii. 31 17. Evelyn went to see the several! ' drougs 

for the confection of Treacle, Diascordium, and other electuaries.' Diary 

p. 262. 



FERTILITY OF HUNGARY. 165 

they became convalescent. Thus by God's goodness 
we were delivered from the fear of that dreadful 
malady. But as if all this were not enough, we were 
not able to accomplish the rest of our journey without 
further misfortune. 

After passing through the lands of the Thracians 
and Bulgarians, which extend as far as Nissa, we 
traversed the country of the Servians, which reaches 
from Nissa to Semendria, where the Rascians begin, 
and so arrived at Belgrade, the weather being intensely 
hot, as might be expected in the dog-days. 

Whilst at Belgrade we were offered one fast-day a 
plentiful supply of excellent fish ; among them were 
some fine fat carp caught in the Danube, which are 
considered a dainty. My men stuffed themselves with 
this fish, and in consequence many of them were at- 
tacked by fever, which was caused more or less by 
their greediness. This great supply of fish — enough 
to satisfy forty men — cost half a thaler, and almost 
everything else at Belgrade is equally cheap. Hay 
fetches absolutely nothing ; everyone is allowed to 
take as much as he likes out of the rich meadows ; he 
is only charged for the cutting and the carrying. All 
this, as we crossed the Save, made us admire still more 
the wisdom of the ancient Hungarians in choosing 
Pannonia, and thus securing for themselves a land of 
plenty, capable of producing every kind of crop. We 
had travelled far, through many a land both in Europe 
and Asia, and in all that long journey we had seen 
nothing but stunted crops of grass, barley, oats, and 
wheat, with the very life scorched out of them by the 
heat ; but when we entered Hungary, the grass was 
so high that those in the carriage behind could not see 
the carriage in front — a good proof of the fertility of 
the soil. 



1 66 TURKISH LETTERS. 



After Semendria, as I told you, the Rascians begin, 
and occupy the land as far as the river Drave. They 
are great drinkers, and are considered treacherous. I 
cannot tell you how they got their name, or whence 
they sprang, but, at any rate, they were most anxious 
to do what they could for us. 

After passing through some of their villages, which 
were of no particular interest, we came to Essek, 
which is often inaccessible by reason of the swamps in 
which it lies. This is the famous battle-field which 
witnessed the rout of Katzianer and the destruction of 
a Christian army.^ Here, in consequence of the ex- 
cessive heat to which we were exposed whilst passing 
through the open plains of Hungary, I was seized with 
an attack of tertian fever. 

After leaving Essek, we crossed the Drave, and 
arrived at Laszko. Whilst resting here, wearied with 
the journey and worn out by heat and sickness, I was 
visited by the officials of the place, who came to con- 
gratulate me on my arrival. They brought enormous 
melons, and pears and plums of different kinds ; they 
also furnished us with wine and bread. Everything 
was most excellent, and I doubt whether the famous 
Campania itself, highly as it is praised by past and 
present writers for the fertility of its soil, could pro- 
duce anything to surpass the fruits they brought us. 
A long table standing in my bedroom was filled with 
these gifts. My people kept the Hungarians to supper, 
and gave the state of my health as the reason for not 
introducing them to my room. On waking, my eyes 
fell on the table, and I could not tell whether I was 
awake or dreaming, for there before my eyes appeared 
the veritable Horn of Plenty ! At last I asked my 
doctor, and he informed me that he had had them set 

' Sec Skfi'ch of Hiiiigaiiaii History. 



MOHACZ. 167 



out on the table, that I might at least have the pleasure 
of looking at them. I asked him if I might taste 
them. He told me I might do so, but it must only be 
a ' taste.' Accordingly all the fruits were cut, and I 
took a little morsel of each, to my great refreshment. 
On the next day the Hungarians came and paid their 
respects. After complaining of wrongs received from 
some of their neighbours, they asked for the King's 
protection. 

From this place we came to Mohacz,^ the fatal 
field on which Louis of Hungary fell. I saw not far 
from the town a small stream flowing between high 
precipitous banks, into which the unhappy young King 
was thrown with his steed, and so died. He was un- 
fortunate, but he also showed great want of judgment 
in venturing, with a small force of raw troops and 
unarmed peasants, to make a stand against the nume- 
rous and highly disciplined forces of Solyman. 

From Mohacz we came to Tolna, and from Tolna 
to Feldvar. Here I crossed over to an island in the 
Danube of no great size, inhabited by the Rascians, 
who call it Kevi. Crossing the Danube again at this 
point, I arrived at Buda on August 4, twelve days after 
our departure from Belgrade. 

During this part of our journey we lost several 
horses from congestion, brought on by their eating the 
new barley and drinking water when it was too cold. 
I had also been in much danger from brigands, by 
whom this part of the country is infested ; they are for 
the most part Heydons.''* 

I had evidence a little later of the risk I had run 
in the confession of some fellows who were executed 
by the Pasha of Buda. They admitted that they had 
hidden themselves in the gully of a broad watercourse, 

' See Sketch of Hungarian History. - See page 90. 



1 68 TURKISH LETTERS. 



over which ran a crazy bridge, with the intention of 
starting up from this ambuscade and attacking us. It 
IS the easiest thing in the world for a few men to cut 
off a party greatly outnumbering their own on a bridge 
of this kind. The bridges are in such bad condition, and 
so full of cracks and holes, that even with the utmost 
care it is impossible to traverse them without great 
danger of one's horses falling; and so if there are 
brigands to meet the party in front, and others press 
them in the rear, while their flanks are galled by the 
fire of those who are in the gully, lurking in the under- 
wood and reeds, there would be little chance of escape ; 
and the whole party on the bridge being on horseback, 
and therefore scarce able to move, would be in a worse 
case than ever the Romans were in the Caudine forks, 
and at the mercy of the brigands, to be slain or cap- 
tured at their pleasure. What deterred them I know 
not ; possibly it was the number of our party. Again, 
it may have been the sight of the Hungarians who 
accompanied me, or the circumstance that we advanced 
in a long column, and were not all on the bridge at the 
same time. Whatever the reason may have been, by 
God's mercy we came safe to Buda. 

The Pasha was not in the city, having encamped 
opposite Buda, in the plains near Pesth, called Rakos,^ 
where, after the custom of the Hungarians, he was 
holding a muster of Turkish feudal militia. Several 
of the neighbouring Sanjak-beys were with him, but 
more were expected; and so when I asked for an 
audience, he put me off for three days, in order that 
he might have a greater assemblage of Sanjak-beys 

1 Rakos is the name of a plain near Pesth ; the greater extraordinary 
Hungarian Diet used to assemble on this plain after the manner of the 
Polish Diet which met near Warsaw. The Turks continued to use the 
place for mustering their militia. 



RECRIMINATIONS. i6g 



and soldiers. On receiving a summons, I crossed the 
Danube and came to his camp. He made many com- 
plaints of the outrages committed by certain Hun- 
garians. There is one point in which the Turks and 
Hungarians have precisely the same way of proceed- 
ing, the latter being quite as bad as the former. When 
they have committed some outrage, they complain of 
their unfortunate victim as if he were the one in fault. 
The Pasha also added threats of reprisals, thinking, 
probably, that I should be intimidated by the presence 
of his army. I replied briefly that his charge against 
the Hungarians might with much better reason be 
brought against the Turks. I told him that, even on 
my way there, I had come across soldiers of his who 
were engaged in plundering and harrying the property 
of some unhappy Christian peasants who were subjects 
of his Royal Majesty {King Ferdinand), which was 
perfectly true. The Pasha replied that he had handed 
over to the soldiers certain rebellious Christians, who 
were the Stiltan's subjects, to be chastised and pillaged. 
After rejoinders of this kind, he dismissed me, more 
dead than alive, for this was the day on which my 
fever recurred. 

On the next day we set out for Gran, under the 
escort of some Turkish horsemen. My intention was 
to cross the Danube, and spend the night in a village 
which lies on the opposite bank over against Gran, so 
that the next day I might reach Komorn at an earlier 
hour, and in this way lessen the effects of the fever, 
which I expected to recur on that day. Accordingly 
I requested our conductor to send some one forward to 
bring the ferry-bridge across to our bank, with a view 
to accelerating our passage. Although there were 
several reasons which rendered this plan scarcely 
feasible, still, partly from a wish to please me, and 



170 TURKISH LETTERS. 



partly because he was anxious to announce my coming 
to the Sanjak-bey, he despatched a couple of men. 

When the men had ridden forward for the space of 
one hour, they noticed four horsemen under the shade 
of a tree, which stood at a little distance from the road. 
As they were dressed in Turkish fashion, they took 
them for Turks, and rode up. On coming nearer, 
they inquired whether the country in that direction was 
fairly quiet. The four horsemen made no reply, but 
charged on them with drawn swords, and slashed one 
of the Turks over the face, cutting his nose nearly off. 
so that the greater part of it hung down on his chin. 
One of the Turks was leading his horse by the rein. 
This the horsemen seized, and one of them mounted 
on its back, leaving his own scurvy jade in its place. 
After this exchange of steeds they took to flight, while 
the Turks fell back to our party — the man whose face 
had been damaged bellowing lustily, and showing the 
horrid wound he had received. They told us to make 
ready for fighting our way through an ambuscade they 
had discovered. Even I got into the saddle, in the 
hope of encouraging my men. But we came too late ; 
the battle was all over. The fellows, who were far 
more anxious to carry off their booty than to bandy 
blows, were already galloping back to Raab, a town 
which our people hold, and of the garrison of which 
they formed a part. The Turks pointed them out to 
us, as they rode across the neighbouring hills on their 
way to Raab. 

After this adventure we came to Gran, where next 
day the Sanjak-bey, after giving me a hearty welcome, 
recommended me, am.ongst other things, not to forget 
the proof I had just received of how insolent Hun- 
garian soldiers could be, and to remember that not 
even the respect due to the presence of his Royal 



THE VALUE OF A NOSE. 171 



Majesty's ambassador had kept them from playing 
their old tricks. He requested me also to see that the 
horse which had been taken away was returned. 
Meanwhile, my friend the Turk who had been 
wounded was standing" in a corner of the Sanjak-bey's 
hall, with his head covered with bandages and his nose 
freshly sewn up. As he drew his breath there was a 
kind of hoarse, uncomfortable sound. He kept asking 
me for something to comfort him under his misfortune. 
I promised to give him that which should cure his 
wound, and presented him with two gold ducats. He 
wanted more, but the Sanjak-bey cut him short, and 
declared that it was enough, and more than enough, to 
cure him, reminding him that his misfortune must 
have been predestined, and therefore I could not justly 
be held responsible for it ! 

After this I was allowed to resume my journey, 
and on the same day reached Komorn. Here I 
waited patiently for my fever to come on at its regular 
time. At last I found that it had left me, and that the 
Turkish fever had not ventured to cross into Christian 
territory ! Hereupon I gave thanks to God for de- 
livering me, in one and the same day, both from sick- 
ness and also from the toils and troubles of a long- and 
difficult journey. 

Two days later I reached Vienna, but I did not 
find my most gracious master Ferdinand, King of the 
Romans, in the city. At present his place at Vienna 
is occupied by Maximilian, King of Bohemia, whose 
kindness has made me well nigh forget the hardships 
I have undergone ; but I am still so reduced by loss 
of flesh and lack of care, and the inconveniences arising 
from travelling whilst sick, that many imagine I have 
been poisoned by the Turks. At any rate, the other day, 
when the Archduke Ferdinand was here and I bowed 



172 TURKISH LETTERS. 



to him, on his asking one of his people who I was, the 
man replied, loud enough for me to hear, that ' my 
looks might tell from what country I had come ; ' 
probably intending to suggest that I had swallowed 
the same sort of mushroom as Claudius ^ of old. But 
I am quite certain that I am suffering from nothing of 
the kind, and that after a little rest I shall recover my 
colour, my strength, and my general condition ; in- 
deed, I feel every day that there is a gradual change 
for the better. 

In the meantime I have sent news of my return 
to the King of the Romans, informing him at the same 
time of the six months' truce, and giving him a short 
account of the negotiations in which I have been en- 
gaged. When he returns from the Diet, in the affairs of 
which he is now engaged, I shall be able to give him 
a full report. 

Many, who from fear or some other reason, shrank 
from accompanying me to Constantinople, would now 
give a handsome sum for the honour of having returned 
with me. Their case reminds me of the famous line 
in Plautus — 

' Let him who would eat the kernel crack the nut.' 

A man has no right to ask {or part of the profit, if he 
has not taken on himself /^r/ of the work. 

You have now got an account of my journey to 
Amasia as well as the history of my journey to Con- 
stantinople ; the yarn I have spun is rough and ready, 
just as I should tell it if we were chatting together. 
You will be bound to excuse the want of polish, 
inasmuch as I have complied with your request, and 
despatched my letter at an early date. In mere fairness 

' The Emperor Claudius was murdered by his wife Agrippina, who 
gave him poison in a dish of mushrooms. Tacitus, Annals, xii. 67. 



APOLOGY. 173 



you cannot expect fine writing from a man who is hur- 
ried and overwhelmed with business. As to fine writ- 
ing indeed, I do not beheve I am capable of it, even if 
I had time to think and leisure to compose. 

But while I own my deficiencies in this respect, I 
have the satisfaction of feeling that I can claim for my 
poor narrative one merit, compared with which all other 
merits are as nothing. It is written in a spirit of 
honesty and truth. 

Vienna, September i, 1555.' 

' In all the Latin editions of Busbecq the date is given as September 
ij 1554- This is manifestly wrong, as may be shown by internal evi- 
dence, as for example the date of the marriage of Philip and Mary, 
July 25, 1554. Busbecq was present at this marriage, and was not sum- 
moned to Vienna till November 3, 1554, see page 75. He must, there- 
fore, have returned in 1555. 



174 TURKISH LETTERS. 



LETTER II. 

Reasons for returning to Constantinople — Roostem restored to power — 
Negotiations — Busbecq's nose and ears in danger — Bajazet — Account 
of Solyman's family — Story of Prince Jehangir— Roxolana's partiality 
for Bajazet — The temper of Mustapha's partisans — Bajazet suborns a 
man to personate Mustapha — The impostor in Bulgaria — His artful 
address — Solyman's appreciation of the crisis — The Sanjak-beys — 
Pertau Pasha — Seizure of the impostor — Tortured by order of the 
Sultan — The impostor's revelations — Drowned at midnight — Danger 
of Bajazet — Roxolana's intercession for her son — Bajazet's visit to his 
father — The cup of sherbet — Bajazet more fortunate than Mustapha 
— Achmet Pasha — Various reasons assigned for his execution — 
Strange request to his executioner — Busbecq's best friends. 

I HAVE received your letter, in which you tell me that 
you have heard of my departure for Thrace, while you 
wonder at the infatuation which has induced me to 
revisit a country destitute of civilisation, and notorious 
for deeds of cruelty. 

Well, you wish me to tell you of my journey, the 
position of affairs when I arrived, my reception at Con- 
stantinople, etc. ; in short, you want to know how I am, 
whether I am enjoying myself, and whether I have 
any immediate prospect of returning. You claim an 
answer to your questions on the score of our ancient 
friendship. 

Here is my reply to your inquiries. First, the 
report which you heard of my return hither was quite 
correct, nor need you be surprised at my taking this 
step. My word was pledged, and having once under- 
taken the duty, I could not consistently draw back. 

My position was this : I had been appointed by 
my most gracious master Ferdinand, King of the 



RETURN TO TURKEY. 175 

Romans, ambassador in ordinary to Solyman for se- 
veral years. This appointment, however, and my 
acceptance of it, appeared to rest on the assumption 
that peace had been concluded ; still, as the hope of 
an arrangement had not been altogether abandoned, 
I did not, until the matter was finally settled, one way 
or the other, feel justified in avoiding the toils and 
risks of my present position. 

Accordingly though I was under no delusion as to 
the extent of the danger I was incurring, and should 
have much preferred to hand over the duty to another, 
still, since I could not find a substitute, I was obliged 
to obey the wish of my most kind and considerate 
Sovereign — a wish which to me was law. As soon 
as he had returned from the session of the Imperial 
Diet,^ and had given me an interview, in the course 
of which I informed him of the state of our negotia- 
tions with Solyman, he ordered me to hold myself in 
readiness to carry back his answer to the Sultan. 

It was winter, and the weather was bad, being wet, 
cold, and windy, when I was ordered back to Con- 
stantinople with despatches which could hardly be 
acceptable to those to whom I went. Here you will 
exclaim at my infatuation in venturing a second time 
on such a risk. I cannot look on it in this lio-ht. It 
seems to me that what was the right course before 
must be the right course now. And surely the proper 
measure of the credit to be attached to an honourable 
act, is the amount of toil and danger involved in its 
accomplishment. 

In the month of November I left Vienna to retrace 
my steps to the shores of the Euxine. I have no 
intention of abusing your patience by wearying you 

' At Augsburg. 



176 TURKISH LETTERS. 

with a repetition of the trifling occurrences which befell 
me on my way, for I think you must have been so 
bored with the account of my former journey, as hardly 
yet to have recovered from its effects. Repetition is 
all the more needless, because we took almost iden- 
tically the same route as before. 

Early in January I reached Constantinople, after 
losing one of my companions from an attack of acute 
fever, brought on by the hardships of the road. I 
found my colleagues safe and sound, but a great change 
had taken place in the Turkish Government. Bajazet, 
the younger son of Solyman, had been delivered from 
a position of serious danger, and forgiven by his father. 
Achmet Pasha, ^ the Chief Vizier, had been strangled ; 
and Roostem restored to his former honours. 

Of these things more anon. I will now tell you of 
the unfavourable reception I had from the Sultan, the 
Pashas, and the rest of the Turks. 

In accordance with their usual practice before ad- 
mitting an ambassador to the presence of their Sove- 
reign, the Pashas desired me to tell them the purport 
of the answer with which I was entrusted ; on learning 
that his Majesty declined to make any concession, and 
insisted on his right to the fulfilment of the treaty 
which he had fairly and honestly negotiated with the 
widow and son of John the Voivode^ (i.e. Governor) of 
Transylvania, the wrath and indignation of the Pashas 
knew no bounds. A long career of success has made 
the Turks so arrogant, that thej^ consider their pleasure 
to be the sole rule of what is right and what is wrong. 

At first they tried to frighten us, and enlarged on 
the danger of entering the Sultan's presence with such 
despatches. When we were not to be intimidated, 

* See page i88. 
"^ See Sketch of Htc7tgarian History. 



BUSBECQS jNOSE AND EARS IN DANGER. 177 



and again asked for an audience, they refused to in- 
volve themselves in our dangers by presenting us to 
their Sovereign. To use their own phrase, they asked us 
' how many spare heads we thought they had got, that 
we expected them to introduce us to their master's pre- 
sence with an answer of this kind ? It was a downright 
insult on our part, and one which their master was not 
the man to pocket. He was in his capital, surrounded 
by his victorious troops ; his successes against the Per- 
sians had raised his spirit and swelled his pride, while 
the son who had aspired to his throne had been put to 
death, from which last circumstance we might learn a 
lesson as to how far his wrath could go. What could 
possibly suit him better than a campaign in Hungary, 
where his war-worn soldiers might forget their hard- 
ships, and enjoy the plunder of a well-stocked country, 
while he annexed to his empire the remainder of that 
province, which in good sooth was not much ? In 
short our wisest course was to keep quiet, and not 
arouse his anger ; there was no need for us to hasten 
on the evil day; it would come quite soon enough 
without our interference.' Such was the advice of the 
Pashas, nor was more comfort to be derived from the 
opinions expressed by the rest of the Turks ; for the 
mildest punishment they threatened us with was, that 
two of us Avould be thrust into a noisome dungeon, 
while the third (your humble servant, to wit), would be 
sent back to his master, after being first deprived of his 
nose and ears. Moreover, we noticed that people, as 
they passed our lodging, scowled at us in a way that 
boded no good. From this time we met with harsher 
treatment, our confinement was closer, no one was suf- 
fered to visit us, our people were not allowed to go 
abroad ; in short, although we were ambassadors, our 
lot was scarcely better than that of prisoners. This 

VOL. I. N 



178 TURKISH LETTERS. 



has been our position for the last six months, and what 
will be the end of it God only knows ; we are in His 
hands, and whatever may befall us, whatever we may 
have to bear, v/e shall have the great comfort of feeling 
that there is nothing on our part of which we need be 
ashamed. 

I will now proceed to answer your inquiries touch- 
ing Bajazet, but in order to make my explanation 
clearer, I must give you further explanations about the 
Sultan's family. Solyman has had five sons, the eldest 
of whom was Mustapha, whose unhappy end I have 
already described ; he was the son of a woman who 
came from the Crimea ; by a Russian ^ woman, to whom 
he is legally married, he has had four sons— Mahomet, 
Selim, Bajazet, and Jehangir. Mahomet, after marry- 
ing a wife (for the Turks give the title of wife to con- 
cubines), died while still young. The surviving sons 
are Selim and Bajazet. 

Jehangir, the youngest, is dead, and of his death I 
shall now proceed to give you an account. The news 
of Mustapha's death, when it arrived at Constantinople, 
overwhelmed the young prince with terror and dismay. 
The poor lad, whose person was disfigured by a hump, 
had no strength of mind or body to enable him to 
resist the shock. The death of his brother reminded 
him of the fate in store for himself at no distant day. 
His father's death would seal his doom. The con- 
signment of the old Sultan to the tomb would mark 
at once the commencement of his successor's reign, 
and the termination of his own life. Whoever that 
successor might be, it was certain he would regard 
all his brothers as rivals to his throne, who must 
be got rid of without delay ; and of these brothers 
he was one. These sad thoughts took hold of him 

' Roxolana, see note, page 109. 



SELIM AND BAJAZET. 179 



to such an extent, that an order for his instant execu- 
tion could not have terrified him more. So great was 
his misery that it brought on an illness which ter- 
minated in his death. 

^ Two sons, as I said, survive ; one of whom, Selim, 
being the elder, is intended by his father to succeed 
him on the throne. Bajazet's claims are warmly sup- 
ported by his mother, who is devoted to him. Pos- 
sibly his hopeless position may have excited her pity, 
or she may be influenced by his dutiful bearing 
towards herself; but whatever the reason may be, 
no one doubts that, if it depended on her, Bajazet 
would be placed on the throne to the exclusion of 
Selim. She must, however, yield to the father's will, 
and he is thoroughly determined that, if the fates 
permit, no one but Selim shall succeed him. Bajazet, 
being aware how matters stand, is anxiously looking 
round for an opportunity of escaping the fate marked 
out for him, and exchanging a pitiless doom for a 
throne. Indeed the support of his mother and Roostem 
prevents his altogether despairing of success ; and to 
fall fighting for the chance of empire seems to him a 
more honourable lot than to be butchered like a sheep 
by his brother's hangman. Such were Bajazet's feel- 
ings, and his difference with Selim was becoming more 
and more marked, when he discerned in the odium 
excited by the execution of Mustapha an opportunity 
of putting in motion the revolution he had long been 
planning. 

So intense was the sorrow for Mustapha, that many 
after his death grew weary of life ; all their prospects 
had been bound up in his fortunes, and what they 
most longed for was an opportunity of avenging his 
wrongs or sharing his fate. Some of his supporters 
were rendered so uneasy by their own fears, that they 



N 2 



i8o TURKISH letters: 

thought there could be nothing worse than their pre- 
sent position, and therefore were looking out for the 
means of bringing about a general revolution ; all that 
was wanted was a leader ; Mustapha indeed could not 
be recalled to life, but a pretender could be set up. 
Bajazet was on the watch, and the idea struck him as 
one admirably calculated for the furtherance of his 
design. At his instigation, some of his followers in- 
duced a fellow of low origin, but daring and resolute, 
to announce himself as Mustapha, and boldly personate 
the dead prince. In height, features, and general ap- 
pearance he was not unlike that unhappy youth. 
Feigning to have escaped from the Sultan by flight, 
the pretender began to show himself first northward 
of Constantinople, on the slopes ^ of the Balkan lead- 
ing down to the Danube, not far from the provinces of 
Moldavia and Wallachia. 

There were two reasons for choosing this locality ; 
first, because the proximity of the above-mentioned 
provinces afforded a good opening for revolutionary 
schemes, and, secondly, because the whole country was 
full of Spahis, a branch of the service which had pro- 
vided Mustapha with most of his followers. He landed 
there with a few attendants, pretending to be a tra- 
veller, who desired to escape notice. When his com- 
panions were questioned as to who he was, they made 
people think it was Mustapha by timid hints, rather 
than by downright statements ; nor did their leader 
himself deny that such was the case. This cunnino- 

1 • 

device made people still more anxious to see him. 
Hereon the pretender threw away all disguise; and 
after expressing his joy at his safe arrival among them, 
and thanking God for his preservation, proceeded to 
tell them the following story. He said that ' when he 

' I.e., the modern Bulgaria. 



THE FALSE MUSTAPHA. iSi 



was summoned/ he had not ventured to enter into the 
presence of his offended father or trust himself in his 
hands, but that by the advice of his friends he had, by 
means of large promises, procured a man who resem- 
bled him to go in his stead, that he might learn his 
father's disposition towards himself, at the risk of an- 
other man's life : this man, before he was admitted to 
his father, or given any opportunity of pleading his 
case, had been cruelly strangled, and exposed in front 
of the Sultan's tent ; at the time there were many who 
had a sort of suspicion of the trick, but a still larger 
number, owing to the features of the wretched man 
being rendered undistinguishable by his agonising 
death, had been induced to believe that he himseff 
had suffered. On learning this, he had felt that he 
must without loss of time fly for his life. Knowing 
that his safety depended on secresy, he had only al- 
lowed a few of his companions to share his flight ; he 
had made his way along the north coast of the Black 
Sea through the tribes of the Bosphorus,^ and had 
come amongst them, because he felt that in their loyal 
protection lay his best chance of safety. He implored 
them not to fail him in the hour of trial, when he was 
suffermg from the persecution of his wicked step- 
mother, or hold him of less account than they had 
been wont to do in the time of his prosperity ; his 
object was to avenge his wrongs, and draw the sword 
m self-defence. What else remained to him.? If he 
still lived, it was only because another had died in his 
stead ; proof enough had been given of his father's feel- 
ings towards him ; to his parent's mistake, not to his 
parent's affection, he owed his life ; all this misery arose 

' See page 113. 

'' I.e., the Crimea and adjacent countries, the birthplace of Mustapha's 
mother, see page 109. 



i82 TURKISH LETTERS. 

from the sorceries of his mother-in-law ; the poor old 
Sultan being hardly in his right mind, and rnadly 
devoted to his wife, she was able to sway him at her 
pleasure, and with Roostem's assistance, to drive him 
to the commission of any crime she chose ; but, thank 
God, he had true friends to help him out of his mis- 
fortunes, and inflict condign punishment on his ene- 
mies ; he still had devoted followers, on his side were 
the Janissaries and the greater part of his father's 
household, large forces would pour in when they heard 
of his standard being raised, and hosts of friends, who 
mourned his death, would rally round him when they 
found he still lived. He only asked them to receive 
him kindly as a guest, and protect him in the day of 
adversity, until such time as his supporters could be 
assembled.' 

At first he used this language privately, but after- 
wards he harangued in a similar strain the inhabi- 
tants of the places he visited ; the men who were 
supposed to have been the companions of his flight 
supported his assertions by similar narratives ; while 
persons of considerable position, who had been 
suborned by Bajazet, made statements to the same 
effect. By this means a great number of people who 
had no connection with Bajazet, were drawn into the 
mistake. For the affair was so artfully managed that 
some who had known Mustapha during his life, and 
had recognised his body when it lay before his father's 
tent, were nevertheless anxious to discredit their own 
senses, and allowed themselves to be persuaded that 
this was the true Mustapha. And though the intimate 
friends and dependants of Mustapha, on whose me- 
mories his features were imprinted, were in no wise 
decei'/ed by the impostor, nevertheless, they were so 
blinded by fear and resentment, that they were among 



THE IMPOSTOR'S SUCCESS 183 



the first to give in their allegiance. There was nothing 
they were not willing to undergo sooner than live any 
longer without a Mustapha. Their adhesion prevented 
the rest from having any doubts as to his being the 
true Mustapha, and convinced them that the story of 
his execution was founded on a mistake. Nor was the 
impostor himself idle ; for some he had fine words 
and promises, while on many he bestowed money and 
presents, purporting to be a remnant saved from the 
wreck of his former fortune (for Bajazet had taken care 
that there should be no lack of funds), and so, by one 
means or another, he managed to keep his followers 
together, and add to their number. 

Accordingly, in a km days a large and daily in- 
creasing force had been collected ; the muster had 
already assumed the proportions of a regular army, 
when Solyman was suddenly informed of the insurrec- 
tion ; letters and messengers came in hot haste from 
the neighbouring Sanjak-beys to tell him that the in- 
surrection was rapidly gaining head, and the crisis had 
become serious. 

The Sultan, rightly surmising that one or other of 
his two sons was privy to the conspiracy, considered it 
a most serious matter, and sent despatches severely 
reprimanding the Sanjak-beys for their remissness in 
allowing the insurrection to assume such formidable 
proportions, instead of nipping it in the bud ; more- 
over, he threatened to punish them severely if they 
failed to send him the impostor in chains at the very 
earliest date possible, and with him all the other ring- 
leaders in this monstrous treason. He told them that, 
in order to expedite matters, he was sending one of his 
Vizierial Pashas to their assistance (the name of this 
officer was Pertau, he is married to the widow of the 
Mahomet of whom I told you), and that he was accom- 



^^4 TURKISH LETTERS. 



panied by a large force of household troops ; but if 
they desired to clear themselves, they had better bring 
the matter to a conclusion with their own forces, before 
the reinforcements arrived. 

Pertau's command was not numerous, but it was 
composed of the most loyal of the Sultan's troops ; for 
Solyman had taken care to select his most faithful 
colonels, captains, and cavalry officers. There was, 
indeed, serious aj^prehension of Pertau's forces being 
mduced to go over to the enemy in a body, as it was 
impossible to say how far they had been tampered 
with, or to what length their party feeling might carry 
them. The rank and file of the Janissaries, excited 
by the idea of a revolution with Mustapha at its head, 
were well inclined towards the insurgents, and eager 
for the rising to become general. There were, there- 
fore, serious reasons for anxiety. 

On receiving Solyman's commands, the Sanjak- 
beys felt the necessity of vigorous action, and, with 
many mutual exhortations, set to work in all haste to 
oppose and check the pretender's plans, doing their 
utmost to cut off the bands that were coming up, and 
to break up the force which he had already collected, 
whilst they cowed the whole country side with threats 
of the Sultan's vengeance. 

Meanwhile, the column of Pertau Pasha was ad- 
vancing towards the scene of insurrection. The effect 
produced by the approach of the regular troops was 
such as might have been expected. The raw levies 
of the pretender were panic-stricken when they saw 
that they were out-generalled and attacked on every 
side: At first small parties dropped away; after 
a while the whole army, throwing honour and obli- 
gation to the winds, deserted their leader, and scat- 
tered in every direction. The pretender, with his chief 



DROWNED AT MIDNIGHT. 185 



officers and advisers, attempted to follow the example 
of his men, but was stopped by the Sanjak-beys, and 
taken alive. They were all handed over to Pertau 
Pasha, and sent off to Constantinople with a guard of 
picked troops. On their arrival, Solvman had them 
carefully examined under torture, their confession 
established the guilt of Bajazet, and made his father 
acquamted with his treasonable designs. He had in- 
tended, it appears, as soon as the forces of the insur^ 
gents had reached a certain size, to join them with a 
strong body of troops, and either to lead them straight 
agamst Constantinople, or to fall with all his strength 
upon his brother, according as circumstances mioht 
favour either attempt ; but whilst he hesitated, his de- 
signs were nipped in the bud by the prompt action of 
his father. Solyman, having satisfied himself on these 
points, ordered them all to be drowned in the sea at 
dead of night, deeming it most inexpedient that any of 
these transactions should be noised abroad, and his 
family /misfortunes become the gazing-stock of neio-h- 
bouring princes. The Sultan, who was grievou^slv 
displeased with Bajazet for this audacious attempt 
was debating in his mind how he should punish him ■ 
but his wife being a clever woman, his intentions were 
not long a secret to her. 

_ Having allowed a {^^ days to elapse, in order to 
give time for his anger to cool, she alluded to the sub- 
ject in Solyman's presence, and spoke of the thought^ 
lessness of young men, quoting similar acts which had 
been done by his forefathers. She reminded the Sultan 
that ' natural instinct teaches everyone to protect him- 
selt and his family, and that death is welcome to none- 
that the mind of a young man can easily be seduced 
from the right path by the suggestions of unscrupulous 
advisers. It was only fair,' she said, ' to pardon a first 



i86 TURKISH LETTERS. 

fault, and if his son came to his senses he would have 
saved him to his own great benefit as a father ; but if 
Bajazet should go back to his former ways, it would then 
be time to punish him, as he deserved, for both his mis- 
deeds. If he would not grant this mercy to his erring 
son, she implored him to grant it to a mother's prayers. 
She begged for the life of the son she had borne, and 
entreated him to spare their common child. What 
must be her feelings,' she continued, ' if, of the two sons 
whom God had spared her, one should be reft away 
by his unrelenting father. He ought to control his 
wrath, and lean to mercy rather than severity, however 
just that severity might be ; for the Deity, whose power 
and justice were infinite, did not clothe himself always 
in severity, but to a great extent allowed mercy to 
prevail, otherwise the human race could not suffice to 
supply victims for his vengeance. To whom ought a 
man to extend mercy, if not to his children .'* Hence- 
forth Bajazet would be a dutiful son, and, freed by this 
great act of grace from his present fears, overflow with 
love and obedience towards his father ; there was no 
surer bond for noble souls than kind and generous 
treatment ; the recollection of the pardon he had re- 
ceived would prevent Bajazet from repeating his offence. 
She pledged her word for him, and undertook that he 
should henceforth be a good and dutiful son.' 

By these words, accompanied as they were with 
tears and caresses, Solyman was softened ; and being 
at all times too much under his wife's influence, he 
changed his resolve, and determined to spare Bajazet, 
on condition of his coming and receiving his commands 
in person. The mother was equal to the occasion, and 
wrote secretly to Bajazet, telling him not to be afraid 
to come when he was sent for, he would be perfectly 
safe; she had obtained his, restoration to his father's 



A PERILOUS INTERVIEW. 187 



favour, from whose mind all displeasure had been re- 
moved. On receiving diis message his hopes rose, 
and he determined to trust himself in his father's hands ; 
but he was not without fears, as he thought every now 
and then of his brother Mustapha, whose fate testified 
pretty clearly to the magnitude of the danger he was 
incurring. Accordingly, he came to the place appointed 
for the conference, which was a public inn a few miles 
from Constantinople, called Carestran. This was in 
accordance with a rule of the Turkish Court, that no 
grown-up son of the Sultan should during his father's 
lifetime set foot within the walls of Constantinople, lest 
he should tamper with the household troops, and en- 
deavour to seize the throne. On dismounting, he found 
his father's slaves waiting for him with an order to lay 
aside his sword and dagger. Nor was there anything 
unusual in this, as it is the general rule for those who 
are admitted to an audience with the Sultan ; still it 
was a precaution which was not calculated to allay the 
fears of his conscience-stricken son. But his mother, 
foreseeing how frightened he would be when entering 
his father's presence, had stationed herself in a chamber 
close to the entrance of the house, by which Bajazet 
must pass. As he went by, he could hear his mother 
calling to him through a little canvas-covered window, 
and saying, 'Corcoma, oglan, corcoma' ; i.e.. Do not fear[ 
my son, do not fear. These words from his mother gave 
Bajazet no little comfort. On entering, his father bade 
him take a seat by his side, and proceeded to lecture 
him most seriously on the rashness of his conduct in 
venturing to take up arms under circumstances which 
made it not improbable that he himself was the object 
of his attack ; and granting that his attempt was directed 
only against his brother, it was even then an outrage- 
ous crime. 



TURKISH LETTERS. 



' He had done what he could towards destroying 
the very foundations of the Moslem faith, by bringing 
to the verge of ruin through family feuds that which 
was nowadays its only support — the imperial power of 
the house of Othman ; this consideration alone ought 
to prevent a true believer from entertaining such a 
design. 

' On the wrong and insult to himself,' continued the 
Sultan, 'he would not dwell, though he had attempted 
to seize the throne during his lifetime, and thus com- 
mitted an unpardonable offence, for which no possible 
punishment could ever atone ; in spite of all this, he 
had determined to spare him, and deal with him rather 
as a kind father than as a strict judge, in the hope that 
he would henceforward leave the care of the future in 
the hands of God ; none of these matters depended 
on man's pleasure, it w^ by God's decree that king- 
doms went and kingdoms came. If fate ordained that 
after his death he (Bajazet) should reign, the matter 
was settled, the realm would come to him without any 
effort on his part ; no human means could avail to 
hinder that which was appointed from on high ; but if 
God had decreed otherwise, it was mere madness to 
toil and strive against His will, and, as it were, to 
fight against God. In short, he must leave off foment- 
ing disorders, cease to attack a brother who did nothino- 
to provoke him, and refrain from troubling: his aeed 
father. But if he returned to his old courses, and 
stirred up another storm, it should break on his own 
head, and there should be no pardon for a second 
offence ; in that case he would not find in him a gentle 
father, but a stern judge.' 

When he had thus spoken, and Bajazet had made a 
short and judicious reply, apologising for his fault 



ACHMET'S DEATH-WARRANT. 189 

rather than palhating it, and promising submission for 
the future to his father's will, Solyman ordered the 
national beverage to be brought in, and handed to his 
son — it was a compound of sugar and water, flavoured 
with the juice of certain herbs. Bajazet, longing, but 
not daring, to refuse it, drank as much as appearances 
required, with misgiving in his heart that this might be 
the last cup he should ever taste. But presently his 
father removed his anxiety by taking a draught from 
the same cup. Bajazet therefore was more fortunate 
than Mustapha in his interview with his father, and 
was allowed to return to his government.^ 

I have a few things to tell you about Achmet's 
death. Some think he was accused of a secret leaning 
towards Mustapha, or at any rate of negligence in not 
detecting the conspiracy of the pretender and Bajazet 
till it was almost too late. Others think that he had 
long before been sentenced to death for robberies and 
depredations committed by him at a time when he 
was without official rank, and fighting for his own 
hand ; and that this sentence, which, on account of his 
gallantry and military skill, had been postponed, though 
never actually remitted, was now to be put into 
execution. Others, again, think that the wish to 
restore Roostem to his old position was the one and 
only reason for putting Achmet to death. Solyman 
was believed to have promised Achmet never to de- 
prive him of the seal of office so long as he lived. 
When circumstances necessitated the restoration of the 
seal to Roostem, he was obliged, in order to keep his 

■ The Turkish historians do not mention Bajazet's connection with 
the attempt of the Pseudo-Mustapha. Busbecq's account, therefore, fills 
an important gap. Von Hammer would discredit all statements that are 
not confirmed by Eastern writers, but surely the evidence of the Austrian 
Ambassador deserves as much consideration as that of Ottoman Ali. See 
note I, page 262. 



190 TURKISH LETTERS. 

pledge and avoid a breach of faith, to put Achmet to 
death, and hence the order for his execution. They 
declare also that Solyman said, it was better for him 
to die once than to die a thousand times, as would be 
the case, if he .survived to be perpetually tormented 
with vain regret for the power that had been snatched 
from his hands and given to another. However that 
may be, one morning when he had gone to the Divan 
(which I have already explained to be the council cham- 
ber), without the slightest knowledge of what was about 
to happen, a messenger came to sentence him to death 
in the Sultan's name. Achmet, being a man of mar- 
vellous courage, received the announcement with almost 
as much composure as if it were no concern of his. 
All he did was to repulse the hangman, who was pre- 
paring to perform his office, deeming it unfitting that 
one who had but lately held so exalted a position, 
should be touched by his polluted hands. Glancing 
round on the bystanders, he begged as a favour of a 
gentleman, with whom he was on friendly terms, to act 
as his executioner, telling him that it was a kindness 
he should greatly value, and the last he would ever be 
able to do to him ; after many entreaties, his friend 
acceded to his request. When this was settled, Achmet 
enjoined him, after putting the bowstring round his 
neck, not to strangle him at the first pull, but to 
slacken it and allow him to draw one breath ; after 
which he was to tighten the string until he was dead ; 
this fancy of his was duly complied with. A strange 
wish, methinks, to pry at such a time into the mystery 
of death, and pay one visit to the threshold of the king 
of terrors before passing his portals for ever ! 

After his death the badges of his former office and 
the post of Chief Vizier were restored to Roostem. 

As to your inquiry about my return, I may answer 



BUSBECqS BEST FRIENDS. 191 

in the words of the famous quotation, ' Facilis descensus 
Averni.' Well, He who guided me on my way hither 
will bring me back in His own good time. In the 
meanwhile, I shall console myself in my loneliness and 
troubles with my old friends, my books ; friends who 
have never failed me hitherto, but have done their 
master true and loyal service by night and day. 
Farewell. 

Constantinople, July 14, 1556.' 



' All the Latin editions have July 14, 1555, See note, page 171. 



192 TURKISH LETTERS. 



LETTER III. 

Introduction — Departure of Busbecq's colleagues and preceding nego- 
tiations—Turkish hawking — Busbecq summoned to Adrianople — 
Earthquake there —Account of earthquake at Constantinople— Bus- 
becq returns to Constantinople — Hires a house there — Is forced to go 
back to his former abode — Description of it— Anecdotes of animals 
in it — Busbecq's menagerie — How Busbecq's friend availed himself of 
the Turkish abhorrence of pigs — Stories of a lynx, a crane, a stag — 
Turkish mendicants— Turkish slaves — Busbecq's kite-shooting — His 
tame partridges from Chios — Mode of keeping them — Artificial egg- 
hatching in Egypt — Turkish horses — Camels — Their use in war — • 
Turkish commissariat — Turkish and Christian soldiers contrasted — 
Their clothing and equipment — Illustration from Ctesar of Turkish 
tactics — Turkish kindness to animals — Cats preferred to dogs — Ma- 
homet and his cat — Narrow escape of a Venetian who ill-treated a bird 
— Turkish fondness for birds — Tame nightingales and goldfinches — 
Turkish women and marriage laws — Divorces — Baths for women — 
Extraordinary story of an old woman— Busbecq's letters intercepted 
— Pashas puzzled by supposed cipher — Conversations with Roostem — 
Hungarian affairs — Ali Pasha appointed commander there — His cha- 
racter and appearance — Besieges Szigeth unsuccessfully — Turkish 
army preserved by advice of a Sanjak-bey — His subsequent treatment 
— Retreat and death of Ali Pasha — Capture of Gran — Skirmishes and 
raids in Croatia — Turkish and Persian dread of fire-arms — Story of 
Roostem's corps of musketeers — Turkish opinion of duelling — Arslan 
bey — Account of the Mingrelians and their king — Busbecq's life 
and occupations — Turkish archery — Turkish readiness to adopt 
foreign inventions and customs — Lemnian earth — Why some Turks 
have their children baptised — Parthian tactics of the Turks — Bus- 
becq's acquaintances of various nations — Rudeness of a Cavasse 
and Busbecq's retaliation— Story of Roostem — Turkish treatment 
of ambassadors — Story of a Venetian ambassador — Emblematic 
present from Roostem— Beginning of Bajazet's rebelhon — Removal 
of him and Selim to new governments — Reluctance of Bajazet 
to obey— Selim marches on Ghemlik — Bajazet's remonstrances and 
his father's reply — Missions of Mehemet and Pertau Pashas to 
Selim and Bajazet— Reluctance of Solyman's troops— The Mufti con- 
sulted—Message of Bajazet to Solyman — His preparations at Angora 

Characters of the rival brothers — Address of Bajazet to his army — 

His defeat at Koniah and retreat to Amasia— Reputation he gains by 



INTR OD UCTION. 



193 



his conduct — Solyman crosses to Asia — His motives — Busbecq a 
spectator of his departure — Description of the procession — Busbecq 
summoned to Solyman's camp — Description of it — Turkish observance 
of Ramazan — Impression made on a Turk by the carnival — Why 
wine was forbidden by Mahomet — Turkish miUtary punishments — 
Quarrel of Busbecq's servants with some Janissaries — Light in which 
the Janissaries are regarded by the Sultan — Albert de Wyss — Baja- 
zet's proceedings at Amasia — Description of Persia — Characters of 
Shah Tahmasp and his son — Solyman's policy towards Bajazet — Flight 
of Bajazet to Persia — Description of the celebration of Bairam by 
the army — Return of Busbecq to Constantinople — Incidents of Baja- 
zet's flight — Solyman is dissuaded from marching against Persia- 
Disaffection among his troops — Bajazet's arrival in Persia — His re- 
ception by the Shah — Duphcity of the Shah— His probable motives— 
Bajazet's troops separated and massacred in detail — He and his 
family are thrown into prison — Opinions as to his probable fate — In- 
fluence of these events on Busbecq's negotiations — His course of 
pohcy — Conclusion. 

Of course you have heard of the last arrangements. 
Well, my colleagues left me some time ago, and I am 
alone at Constantinople. A strange fancy, I think I 
hear you say. What on earth can have induced him 
to stay among savages, an exile from his dear native 
land ? But w^hile you exclaim at my choice, you do 
not forget to ask for every scrap of news I have to 
give, solemnly promising to accept it all — good, bad, 
and indifferent — ^just as it comes. You have other 
questions which you wish answered. What books am I 
reading ? What am I doing ? How do I get through 
the day ? Do I ever go out ? Come, come, what you 
are plaguing me for is, I see, not a letter but a diary. 
Again, you are specially anxious for information about 
Bajazet's fortunes, touching which, you say, there are 
many rumours at home. You assert that I am under 
an engagement to give you news of him, and you de- 
mand heavy damages for breach of contract ! I believe 
you intend dragging me into court, and are already 
preparing your pleadings ! Pray do not be so hard ! 
Restrain your passion, my friend ; or if nothing else 

VOL. I. o 



194 TURKISH LETTERS. 

will serve, take the full sum ; I will pay interest as 
well, in fact do or pay anything sooner than be brought 
into court, though indeed a demurrer would probably 
lie to your claim, for surely after so long an interval 
I might set up the Statute of Limitations. 

When my colleagues, with whom my former letters 
have made you acquainted, saw that we had already 
wasted three years here, and that no progress had been 
made towards peace, or even towards an armistice of 
any duration, and there appeared hardly any hope 
of gaining anything if they stayed, they sought leave 
to return. Now I must tell you that it is easy enough 
to get here; the difficult thing is to get away \^ and 
they had much trouble before they could obtain Soly- 
man's consent. After this we had to decide whether 
we should all three leave, or I should remain behind, 
while my two colleagues, who had been longer at Con- 
stantinople, returned home. For this point Solyman 
had left for our decision, as he was afraid, if he kept 
one of us, that people would think that he was anxious 
for peace. My colleagues considered it was essential 
to the Emperor's interest that one of us should remain. 
This was tolerably obvious ; but, while I shared their 
opinion, I thought it politic to dissemble, and so, when- 
ever the subject was mentioned in the presence of 
Turks, I took care to express my dissatisfaction with 
any arrangement which kept me at Constantinople. 
' Admitting that I had come to discharge the duties of 
an ambassador in ordinary, yet such a position implied 
that peace had been concluded. While this was un- 
certain, I did not see how I could remain at the Sul- 

' 'The regular answer of the ancient Sultans, when requested to re- 
ceive an embassy, was, "The Sublime Porte is open to all." This 
according to the Turkish interpretation, imphed a safe conduct in coming, 
but gave no guarantee about departing.'— Creasy, History of the Ottoman 
Turks, chap, xviii. 



ROOSTEM PRESSES BUSBECQ TO REMAIN. 195 

tan's court without disobeying my instructions, or at 
any rate going beyond them. The proper course,' I 
added, ' would be for one and all of us to receive our 
passports.' 

I took this line in order to make them press me to 
stay, knowing that it would make a material difference 
in my position whether I remained at the request of 
the Turkish Government or of my own free will. I 
was fully alive to the fact that if none of us remained 
to represent his Majesty, there was a probability, or 
rather a certainty, of war ; whereas if I stayed, the pros- 
pects of a peaceful arrangement would not be preju- 
diced. While communications were being exchanged 
between Vienna and Constantinople, a long time would 
elapse, in which many things might occur to improve 
our position. Finally, anything was better than need- 
lessly to plunge into the horrors of war. These con- 
siderations did not blind me to the fact, that, as far as 
my own personal interest was concerned, I was acting 
imprudently in remaining behind. I foresaw the addi- 
tional responsibility I must undertake, and the risks 
and dangers of the position I was to occupy, which, 
great as they must be in any case, would become 
extremely serious if the negotiations ended in war. 
But men who take upon themselves the onerous office of 
ambassador must not allow considerations of this kind 
to come between them and their duty to the State. 

Roostem, in his excessive anxiety to keep me, 
played as it were into my hands. No doubt he under- 
stood how much the chances of peace would be dimi- 
nished by our departure in a body, and the rupture of 
the negotiations which were pending. His chief reason 
for dreading an outbreak of hostilities was the effect 
it would probably have on Solyman's sons, who would 
be sure to take up arms as soon as their father marched 

o 2 



196 TURKISH LETTERS. 

for Hungary. However quiet Selim might be, he 
knew that Bajazet would be certain to attack him ; 
and the deep interest which he, his wife, and his 
mother-in-law took in the younger prince, made him 
anxious that nothing should occur to provoke a step 
on his part which he foresaw would be his destruction. 
Therefore, having summoned us to his house, he com- 
municated at great length to my colleagues the con- 
siderations he wished to be brought before his Majesty 
to induce him to agree to the terms the Sultan offered. 
But he urged me to stay at my post, and to persevere 
in my efforts for the re-establishment of peace. There 
was no doubt, he said, that the course he recommended 
would meet with the Emperor's approval, as he had 
never shown himself averse to peace. I, on the other 
hand, expressed annoyance at his proposals, and 
made objections to them, as far as I could do so with 
decency and safety. On this Roostem grew eager, and 
begged me not to take a step which must necessarily 
put an end to all prospect of peace, saying that his Em- 
peror^ was eager to lead his army into Hungary, and 
would have done so long ago, if he himself had not 
through the influence of certain ladies ^ (meaning his 
wife and mother-in-law) prevented him. To use his 
own expression, they had detained him by seizing the 
hem of his garment. He implored us not to go on 
teasing and provoking against ourselves the rage of a 
sleeping lion. I began to be less decided in my 

' ' The intruding Ottoman himself, different in faith as well as in blood, 
has more than once declared himself the representative of the Eastern 
Caesars, whose dominion he extinguished. Solyman the Magnificent 
assumed the name of Emperor, and refused it to Charles V.' — Bryce, 
The Holy Roman Empire, p. 407. 

^ Compare Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes: — 

' Condemned a needy suppliant to wait. 
While ladies interpose and slaves debate.' 



SCENE IN THE DIVAN. 197 

refusals, and to say that I would stay, did I not fear 
that the Pashas would be unreasonable in their treat- 
ment of me. I felt sure, I added, that if anything 
occurred to displease them they would hold me re- 
sponsible for it, and make me the scapegoat, even for 
matters totally out of my power to prevent. Roostem 
told me not to be afraid, saying that whatever turn 
things might take, nothing should be laid to my 
charge ; if I would only remain he would undertake 
to protect me, and, to use his own expression, would 
regard me as his brother. I replied that I would 
think it over, and so we departed. 

The next day we were summoned to the Divan, ^ 
or Council of State, where almost the same scene was 
enacted, except that Roostem, on account of the pre- 
sence of the other Pashas was more guarded in his 
language. Before I finally agreed to remain, I de- 
posited a protest with the Pashas, in which I put on 
record that I was remaining without knowing what my 
master's wishes might be, and therefore reserved all 
questions for his decision without prejudice. I under- 
took nothing, and did not engage to be responsible for 
the result which God had foreordained. This protest 
was afterwards of great service to me when affairs 
looked gloomy, and the Pashas were inclined to treat 
me harshly. I have now given you my reasons for 
remaining. 

' The great Council of State was named the Divan ; and in the 
absence of the Sultan the Grand Vizier was its president. The other 
Viziers and the Kadiaskers, or chief judges, took their stations on his 
right ; the Defterdars, or treasurers, and the Nis-chandyis, or secretaries, 
on his left. The Teskeredyis, or officers charged to present reports on 
the condition of each department of the State, stood in front of the 
Grand Vizier. The Divan was also attended by the Reis-Effendi, a 
general secretary, whose power afterwards became more important than 
that of the Nis-chandyis, by the Grand Chamberlain, and the Grand 
Marshal, and a train of other officials of the Court. (Creasy, History of 
the Ottoman Turks, chap, vi.) 



198 TURKISH LETTERS. 

The departure of my colleagues took place towards 
the end of August 1557. In the following winter the 
Sultan, according to his usual custom, removed to Adri- 
anople, with the double object of making a demonstra- 
tion against Hungary and of enjoying the good hawk- 
ing and the bracing climate, which he thought were 
beneficial to his health. At the junction of the rivers 
near Adrianople are wide tracts of flooded lands, on 
which there are great quantities of wild ducks, geese, 
herons, eagles, cranes, and buzzards. To capture these 
he generally uses a small species of eagle ; these birds 
are trained to seek their quarry in the clouds, and bring 
it down, or to seize it as it flies beneath them, and 
with one swoop dash it to the ground.^ I hear he has 
falcons so well trained that they can bring down a crane, 
striking it under the wing in such a way as to keep 
clear of its beak, on which they would otherwise be 
impaled. Their boldness, however, is not always suc- 
cessful, for if they make the least mistake, they imme- 
diately suffer for it ; the crane's beak goes through 
them like an arrow, and they tumble lifeless to the 
ground. 

For the reasons I have mentioned, the Sultan makes 
a practice every year of repairing to Adrianople at the 
beginning of the winter, and of not returning to Con- 
stantinople till the frogs drive him away with their 
croaking. 

Shortly after the departure of the Court, I re- 
ceived a letter from Roostem ordering me to follow. 

' ' The Sultan (Bajazet I.) had at this time 7,000 falconers, and as 
many huntsmen. You may suppose from this the grandeur of his estab- 
lishments. One day in the presence of the Count de Nevers, he flew a 
falcon at some eagles ; the flight did not please him, and he was so 
wroth, that, for this fault, he was on the point of beheading 2,000 of his 
falconers, scolding them exceedingly for want of diligence in their care of 
his hawks, when the one he was fond of behaved so ill,' — Froissart iv. 58. 



JOURNEY TO ADRIANOPLE. 199 

Some horsemen were attached to me as an escort, and 
al^o sixteen Janissaries, either as a mark of honour or 
to prevent my escaping. As I was directed to come 
with all speed, at first we travelled by long stages, but 
we had scarcely commenced our third day's journey 
when the Janissaries began to grumble. It was winter, 
and they had to trudge along muddy roads, so our 
long marches were not at all to their liking ; they de- 
clared that when they were campaigning with the 
Sultan they did not march more than half the distance, 
and said they could not stand it. This troubled me, 
as I did not wish to be hard on them. At last, while 
I was considering with my attendants what to do for 
them, one of them suggested that they were very fond 
of a sort of omelette, which my cook compounded of 
wine and eggs with plenty of sugar and spices. ' Pos- 
sibly,' said he, 'if they were served with this for 
breakfast every day, they would make fewer complaints 
of fatigue and be more obliging.' Queer as the sug- 
gestion was, I determined to try it, and the result was 
a most complete success, for they were so charmed 
with the omelette, and so merry with the wine with 
which I plied them, that they were ready to start 
before the order came, and volunteered to follow me 
to Buda if I would always treat them so. 

Travelling thus, I arrived at Adrianople, where I 
was obliged to listen to the complaints, not to say 
abuse, of Roostem about the raids and robberies of the 
Hungarians. To these, however, the answer was not 
far to seek, for I was able to tell him of the numerous 
wrongs which our people daily received from Turkish 
soldiers. He could not be surprised, I added, if the 
Christians retaliated. 

I was enabled to answer him thus by the arrival of 
a courier with despatches from the Emperor, in which 



200 TURKISH LETTERS. 



he narrated the outrages perpetrated every day by the 
Turks in our territory, in violation of the armistice 
which we had made for a fixed period on the departure 
of my colleagues; how they harried the miserable 
peasantry with their ceaseless raids, plundered their 
property, and carried off into captivity themselves, 
their wives, and their children. 

I must not omit to mention that on the day of the 
courier's arrival at Adrianople there was a great earth- 
quake, apropos of which he related, that he had felt an 
earthquake, which he considered to be the same, at 
Nisch and Sofia, and many other places through which 
he had journeyed, so that the air enclosed in the caverns 
of the earth seemed to have run a race with him and 
to have travelled almost as fast as he had ridden. In 
confirmation of this theory, I must tell you that a 
similar earthquake was felt four days later at Con- 
stantinople ; here are the data and you can make your 
own deductions. 

I may remark that Constantinople is very subject 
to^ earthquakes, and I remember that once, a little after 
midnight, our lodging began to shake so violently that 
we thought the house would fall. I had been sound 
asleep, but when it woke me and I could see by my 
night-light books and cups tumbling about, laths and 
stones falling from the wall, and the whole room shak- 
ing violently, for a moment I was dumbfoundered and 
knew not what to make of it. At last, when it oc- 
curred to me that it was an earthquake, I jumped up 
and ran out, for fear the house should tumble in upon 
me. The same earthquake continued for some days, 
though the shocks were not so violent. All through 
the city, and especially in our lodging and in St. Sophia, 
even where the walls are most solid, may be seen huge 
cracks caused by settlements from earthquakes. 



RETURN TO CONSTANTINOPLE. 201 

I stayed at Adrianople about three months, and 
then, after concluding a seven months' armistice, I was 
taken back to Constantinople in March. As I was 
tired of being confined in the same lodging, I had 
recourse to the cavasse who acted as my keeper (for 
among the various duties which, as I have already 
told you, are assigned to men of this profession 
amongst the Turks, is the custody of ambassadors), 
and asked him to allow me, like other ambassadors, to 
hire a house with a little bit of garden or pleasure- 
ground, at my own expense. The cavasse made no 
objection, as it would be a saving for his master of 400 
gold ducats a year if I took a house for myself, this 
being the price which the Sultan paid for my present 
lodgings ; so I hired a house, or rather block of build- 
ings, with some land about it, where I intended to lay 
out a garden, hoping by this means to divert my mind 
from the cares and anxieties of my position. 

When, however, my cavasse found it was impos- 
sible to watch me in a house, which was furnished with 
several means of egress and lay in its own ample 
grounds, as strictly as in a caravanserai fa word with 
which I think my former letters have made you fami- 
liar), where all the windows were closely barred, and 
to which there was only one entrance, he changed his 
mind, and induced the Pashas, who had now returned 
from Adrianople, to shut me up once more within the 
walls of our old lodging. Thankful, indeed, was I that 
I did not get worse treatment, for some of the Pashas 
held that, now that I was alone, it was a needless ex- 
travagance to give me such a roomy lodging. The 
majority, however, of the council were more considerate, 
and I was allowed to return to my old prison-house. 

I will take the opportunity of giving you a descrip- 
tion of my abode. The house is situated on high ground 



202 TURKISH LETTERS. 

in the most populous quarter of Constantinople. From 
the back windows there is a lovely view of the sea ; 
though we are at some distance from the shore we can 
distinguish the gambols of the dolphins in the water, 
while the prospect is bounded by Mount Olympus in 
Asia, white with perpetual snow. On every side it is 
open to the breezes, and is on this account considered 
a peculiarly healthy residence. So airy a situation the 
Turks appear to think too good for foreigners, as they 
have not only put iron bars on our windows, to the 
discomfort of our eyes, but have built up parapets 
which prevent our getting fresh air or a good view. 
This was done to meet the complaints of our neigh- 
bours, who declared that their houses, which stood on 
lower ground, were completely exposed to the gaze of 
the Christians. In the centre there is a large open 
space or court in which is a well. No one lives on the 
ground-floor, but on the upper storey there is a veran- 
dah running round the court, out of which open the 
chambers which form the outer part of the building, 
and which consist of a great number of small rooms, 
all built after the same pattern, like the cells of a 
monastery. The front windows open on the public 
street leading to the palace ; and from them the am- 
bassadors have an opportunity, nearly every Friday 
(which answers to our Sunday) of seeing the Sultan on 
his way to his devotions. As he passes, the cavasse 
and Janissaries make their bow, or rather return his, 
for among the Turks it is the custom for the man of 
higher rank to bow first. In conformity with this rule, 
the Sultan himself does not wait for the people in the 
street to bow to him, but first bows himself, and they 
return his salute amid loyal shouts and blessings. The 
ground-floor of the edifice is intended for a stable. 
The vaulted roofs, which are universal throughout the 



SNAKES AND WEASELS. 203 

building, render it safe from fire on the inside ; while 
on the outside it is protected by a covering of lead. 

While the house has many advantages, it must 
be allowed that it has corresponding inconveniences. 
Everything in it is constructed for use, and nothing 
for ornament or comfort ; it has no beauty or novelty 
of design to render it attractive. It has no garden to 
take a walk in ; not so much as a tree, or shrub, or patch 
of grass to refresh the eye, while it swarms with different 
kinds of vermin, such as weasels, snakes, lizards, and 
scorpions. Sometimes when a man goes to fetch his hat 
in the morning, he has the unpleasant surprise of finding 
a snake coiled round it. However, to let you into the 
secret of our diversions, we contrive to extract some 
amusement from these creatures. Sometimes a weasel 
has a battle-royal with a snake, with my whole house- 
hold standing round, and in spite of its struggles drags 
it off in triumph to its hole ; sometimes again a weasel 
changes its abode, and moves its young elsewhere. 
For instance, the other day, when my friends and I 
were still at dinner, one of them jumped down on the 
middle of the table from her nest in the roof with a 
young one in her mouth. On our pulling her away, 
she left it there, and stationed herself at the door 
to see what would happen to the cub. After amusing 
ourselves with the ugly little beast we placed it on the 
floor, whereupon the mother darted in, caught it up, and 
carried it off to its new home. 

We also had an opportunity of inspecting a strange 
reptile from the stables, which had been trodden on by 
the horses and killed ; it was either a snake or a python. 
Its stomach appeared to be very much swollen, so I 
ordered my people to cut it open, and there we found 
three good-sized mice. I could not make out how an 
animal that crawled so slowly could catch such nimble 



204 TURKISH LETTERS. 



creatures ; nor could I understand how it contrived to 
swallow them whole, when its jaws were, as it seemed, 
so narrow. But my difficulty was solved by my find- 
mg another snake in the act of swallowing a toad or 
poisonous frog. It had seized it by the hind legs, and 
had already sucked them and a good part of its body 
down its throat. The toad was still alive, and kept en- 
deavouring to get away from its enemy, struggling as 
hard as it could with its front feet. When I first saw it 
I was thoroughly puzzled. I thought the creature was 
some strange abortion, for it appeared to me to be a 
two-footed beast, with an enormous tail. When I saw 
what it was, I began beating it with a stick, and tried 
to make it release its victim. It was frightened, and 
did its best to disgorge its prey in order to escape ; 
but it was some time before it could succeed in get- 
ting rid of the toad, for it had sucked it in so far that 
the creature stuck in its throat. At last, after much 
difficulty, it managed to disgorge; but then it could 
not shut its mouth, and gaped hideously with its open 
jaws until we killed it. My stick, if Pliny is to be be- 
lieved, would be serviceable to women in childbirth. 

Besides the creatures that breed in the building, I 
keep a good many animals, which furnish my people 
with employment and amusement. I am heartily glad 
to have something for them to do, as otherwise they 
would get terribly homesick. For what better resource 
is left us in our isolation than seeking to forget our 
cares in the society of animals ? There is not much 
amusement to be had, I warrant you, in a great stone 
prison-house like ours. The chief favourites are the 
monkeys, on account of their strange tricks, which are 
very amusing. You may generally see round their 
cage a group of admiring bystanders, who watch their 
mischievous pranks with the keenest interest. I have 



BUSBECQS MENAGERIE. 205 



also wolves, bears, broad-horned stags — which are fre- 
quently but incorrectly called fallow deer — and common 
deer, likewise gazelles, lynxes, ichneumons, and of 
the weasel kind the varieties called martens and 
sables ; also, if you care to know, a pig as well, whose 
companionship I am told by my grooms is wholesome 
for horses. I certainly ought to have given him a 
place in my catalogue, as he attracts numbers of 
Asiatics to my lodging. They come to see this un- 
clean animal, which the laws of their religion forbid 
their tasting. The beast is all the more interesting to 
them, because pigs are never kept, or even seen, in 
their country. Indeed, a Turk would as lief touch one 
of them as I would touch a man with the plague. 

I will tell you a capital story of a friend of mine, 
who took advantage of this prejudice. He wished to 
send me a private parcel, so he got a little pig, and 
put it with the parcel in a sack, which he then told 
his servant to take to me. When he came to the door 
my cavasse met him, and asked him what he had got 
in the sack. The servant whispered in his ear, ' It is 
a little pig, a present from a friend.' The cavasse 
gave the sack a poke with his stick, on which the little 
pig began to squeak. The moment he heard it he 
made a hasty retreat, crying out, 'Well, take your 
nasty dirty present in, if you must, and be hanged to 
you.'^ Then, with a look of intense disgust, he turned 
to his fellow Mussulmans, and said, ' How extraordi- 
narily fond the Christians are of the flesh of that fil- 
thiest of animals ; they positively cannot live without 
It.' Thus the servant was admitted, and brought in 
the secret parcel. 

I have also many kinds of birds, such as eagles, 
ravens, jackdaws, foreign kinds of ducks, Balearic 
cranes, and partridges. From this you will see that 



2o6 TURKISH LETTERS. 

my house is full of animals, ' A Noah's ark, in short,' 
as one of my friends observed. 

Not only is the menagerie a great resource for my 
people by keeping them from fretting, but I also 
derive advantage from it myself, as I am able to verify 
the wonderful stories I have read in various authors of 
the great affection beasts are capable of entertaining 
towards human beings. I never ventured to accept 
these statements for facts, until I saw an Assyrian lynx 
so attach himself to one of my people after only a few 
days' acquaintance, that one could only explain it by the 
theory that he had fallen in love with him. When he 
was present the lynx would give him many caresses 
that plainly showed his affection, hugging and all but 
kissing him. When he wished to go, the animal 
would try to detain him by placing its claws gendy on 
the hem of his garment, and would cast wistful looks 
after him as he went away. During his absence the 
lynx was in a state of the deepest melancholy, con- 
stantly gazing at the door till the man returned ; on 
which the creature, strange to say, recovered his spirits 
and welcomed his friend, When I took the man away 
with me to the Turkish camp across the water, the 
poor beast was inconsolable, refused its food, and after 
a few days pined away. I was much annoyed at this, 
for I had intended to make him, with a very tame 
ichneumon I had, a present to the Emperor, on ac- 
count of the remarkable beauty of his coat ; it was in- 
deed so handsome, that if a common lynx were set 
by his side you would hardly think that they both 
belonged to the same species. It is in Assyria that 
the handsomest lynxes are found, and their skins are 
worth fifteen or sixteen golden crowns. I have no 
doubt that they are the same as the Babylonian skins 
considered so valuable in former days, which are men- 



STORY OF A CRANE. 207 

tioned in the Digest in the chapter on Farmers of the 
Revenue.^ 

Here is another story, which relates to a bird. 
Among other cranes I have a Balearic one. This spe- 
cies is distinguished from the common kinds by a 
white tuft of feathers hanging down from either ear, 
and also by the black feathers which cover the front of 
its neck. These last the Turks are wont to stick in 
their caps. It also differs in size from common cranes. 
This Balearic crane I speak of showed most distinct 
signs of affection for a Spanish soldier, whom I ran- 
somed from captivity, being so attached to him that it 
used to march beside him for many hours as he walked, 
to halt when he stopped, and to stay by him when he 
sat down ; and it allowed itself to be stroked and patted 
by him, though it could not bear to be touched by any 
one else. When he was away, it used to go to his 
room and knock at the door with its beak. If it 
was opened, it pried about to see if it could find him. 
When it found itself disappointed, it used to go all 
over the house and disturb us all with cries so loud 
and shrill that we were obliged in self-defence to shut 
it up ; but when he returned, it would run to meet him 
with outspread wings and queer comical gestures, as if 
it were practising some outlandish jig, or preparing to 
do battle with a pygmy.^ To be short, at last it made a 
custom of sleeping under his bed ; and one day actu- 
ally presented him with an ^gg.^ 

' The reference is to the Digest or Pandects of Justinian, liber 
xxxix. titulus 4, De PubUcanis et Vectigalibus et Commissis, where 
' BabylonicEC pelles' are mentioned in a catalogue of taxable articles. 

^ See Homer's Iliad, iii. 2-6, and compare Milton, Paradise Lost, 

i-S75: 

' That small infantry 

Warred on by cranes.' 

' These stories of the lynx and crane are quoted by Burton in his 

Anatomy of Melancholy, 



2o8 TURKISH LETTERS. 

You have heard the marks of afifection for men 
displayed by two animals. I will now give you an 
instance of an ungrateful beast, which proved itself 
both savage and treacherous. I had a tame stag 
which lived with us for many months and seemed 
quite domesticated. When the rutting season arrived, 
however, he suddenly became so frantic, that, forgetful 
of the ties of hospitality and kindness, he as it were 
declared war on us and treated us all like enemies, 
attacking with his horns everyone he met, so that we 
were obliged to shut him up. One night he broke out 
in spite of bars and bolts, and frightened the horses, 
which, after the Turkish fashion, were passing the 
night in the open air in the courtyard. When the 
grooms ran out to quiet the disturbance, and tried to 
drive the stag back to his prison, he not only refused 
to go in, but turned on the men and wounded several 
of them. Excited by this they drove the foe into the 
stable, which, as I said, was very spacious, and there 
with my permission attacked him with lances, hunting 
spears, and every weapon that came to hand. At first 
he made a gallant defence, but at last, overcome by 
numbers, he fell pierced with wounds in every limb ; 
for more than forty men were arrayed against him, 
and he was all alone. Thus he atoned for his bad 
conduct to his hosts. All the ambassadors at Con- 
stantinople had a share of the fruits of that night's 
chase, for I had the stag cut up and sent them each a 
present of venison. 

The stag was one of very large size, like those that 
are in the habit of going up from Hungary to Austria 
at the beginning of autumn for the purpose of mating 
with their kind. I got him from beggars who made a 
profit of him. They went about collecting alms, and 
before asking for money they repeated a prayer, in 



TUEKISH BEGGARS. 209 



which there was frequent mention of the name of God. 
As often as it occurred they bowed their heads, and 
they had trained the stag to do the same. By this the 
lower orders were led to imagine that the animal re- 
cognised the name of God, and gave many a penny to 
its owners. As the stag was an unusually fine spe- 
cimen of its kind, I had intended bringing him to the 
Emperor. 

Now that we are talking of Turkish beggars, I 
may as well give you some account of their ways. 
They are not so numerous as with us, and for the 
most part consist of religious impostors of one kind or 
another, wandering from place to place. Some feign 
madness or idiocy as an excuse for their begging, for 
lunatics and crazy folk are considered sure of salva- 
tion by the Turks, and therefore regarded as saints 
whilst still on earth. There are Arabs too among 
them, who carry about with them banners, under 
which they declare their ancestors fought to extend 
the Moslem religion. They do not beg indiscrimi- 
nately or from everybody, but force upon the passers- 
by in the evening a tallow candle, a lemon, or a 
pomegranate, for which they expect double or treble 
its value, that so by a pretence of selling they may 
avoid the disgrace of askino-. 

But the people who among us are beggars among 
them are slaves, for when a slave has lost the use of 
his limbs his master is still bound to maintain him ; 
besides, however feeble a slave may be, they manage 
to get some service from him. I remember ransoming 
a Spanish gentleman, who had been an officer in his 
own army. Though he was completely crippled by 
his wounds, yet the Turk who had bought him 
managed to make some profit of him. He took him 
over to Asia, where flocks of geese are kept, and hired 

VOL. I. P 



210 TURKISH LETTERS. 



him out as goose-herd, by which he turned a nice 
Httle penny. 

I have my doubts as to whether the man who first 
abohshed slavery is to be regarded as a pubHc bene- 
factor. I know that slavery brings with it various 
disadvantages, but these are counterbalanced by cor- 
responding advantages. If a just and mild form of 
slavery, such as the Roman laws ordained, especially 
with the State for master, had continued, perhaps fewer 
gallows and gibbets would be needed to keep those in 
order who, having nothing but life and liberty, are 
driven by want into every conceivable crime. Freedom 
when combined with extreme poverty has made many 
a man a rascal ; it causes temptation such as few can 
resist. Nature has denied to many the power of self- 
control, and the knowledge which is indispensable for 
acting aright ; they need the support and guidance of 
a superior as the only means of stopping them in their 
career of vice. They are like savage animals, and 
require chains to prevent their becoming dangerous. 

In Turkey the class which is likely to go astray is 
controlled by a master's authority, while the master is 
supported by the slave's labour. Both publicly and 
privately the Turks derive great advantages from this 
institution. Slave labour enables them to live both 
comfortably and economically; indeed they have a 
proverb to the effect that no one can be considered 
poor as long as he is master of a single slave. So also 
in the department of public works, if there is any 
building, removing, clearing, or breaking up to be done, 
there is a constant supply of slave labour to execute 
the work. We never attain the grandeur of the works 
of antiquity. What is the reason ? Hands are want- 
ing, or, in other words, slave labour. I need not men- 
tion what means of acquiring every kind of knowledge 



SLAVERY AMONG THE TURKS. 



211 



the ancients possessed in learned and educated slaves. 
Well, well, you must not put down all this as my 
serious opinion ; it is a mere fancy which I should be 
sorry you should take in sober earnest.^ 

Slave-hunting is the chief source of profit to the 
Turkish soldier. If he brings back from a campaign 
nothing except one or two slaves, he may consid'er 
himself well repaid for his exertions, as the price of an 
ordinary slave is from forty to fifty crowns, and twice 
this sum may be obtained for a slave who is young or 
handsome or a skilful craftsman. This will give you a 
notion of the gain they make, when they carry off some 
five or six thousand prisoners from a town, and will 
show you how profitable their raids must be. I observe 
that the Romans also did not despise gains of this 
kind ; nay, their own writers tell us how they sold by 
public auction the populations of entire cities, number- 
ing 25,000 or 30,000 souls. The Turks would make 
of such a booty fifteen hundred thousand crowns more 
or less. They abstain, however, from exercising the 
rights of war over men of their own religion, and allow 
them to retain the status of freemen unimpaired. 

But to return from this digression. As I have 
already spoken of my hunting, I must now tell you 

' Gibbon's reference to this passage is not fair. He says (chap 
kvui. note), ' Busbequius expatiates with pleasure and applause on the 
rights of war, and the use of slavery among the ancients and the Turks ' 
In the first place Busbecq merely throws out asuggestion, which he would 
be sorry for his friend to take in sober earnest. Secondly, we must re- 
member the evils existing in Busbecq's days, which slavery would have 
remedied ; (1.) it was the common practice to put to death all prisoners of 
war, who could not pay ransom ; e.g. see Busbecq's letter of November 
13, 1589, to Rodolph. Slavery in this case would be a mitigation of their 
fate. (11.) At that time death or mutilation were the punishments for 
almost every offence. Busbecq's project is an anticipation of the more 
merciful system of modern times which has introduced penal servitude 
which is really ' a just and mild form of slavery.' ' 

P 2 



212 TURKISH LETTERS. 

about my fowling. Kind as the Turks are to all 
animals, they are especially so to birds, and most of all 
to the kites, whom they regard as useful scavengers of 
their city. Accordingly these creatures, having neither 
snares nor missiles to fear, are to be found in numbers 
at Constantinople, and are wonderfully tame. They 
come at one's whistle, and pounce on pieces of food 
which are thrown into the air. My plan is to order a 
sheep to be killed ; the kites are then whistled for, and 
fragments of the offal are thrown into the air. In a 
moment some ten, twelve, or twenty appear, and pre- 
sently they gather so thick as almost to overshadow 
the house. Some are so bold that they will snatch the 
meat from my people's hands as they hold it out. 
Meanwhile I post myself behind a pillar with my cross- 
bow,^ pick out a kite, and make my clay bullets rattle 
on its wings or tail, till I have brought down one or 
two. I am obliged to bolt my gates before indulging 
in this sport for fear of irritating the Turks. 

Talking of birds, I must tell you about my par- 
tridges, so that you may have a full account of all my 
amusements, and may perhaps feel the same surprise 
about the habits of these birds that I did. I had some 
partridges from Chios with red beaks and red legs, so 
tame that they became quite tiresome. They were con- 
tinually at my feet, beating the dust from my velvet slip- 
pers with their beaks to dust themselves with. They got 
so troublesome that I ordered them to be shut up in a 
room, where they grew so fat that they died after a few 
days' confinement. At least this is the account my 
servants give, and the question is whether to believe 

' Shooting with the crossbow has been a custom at Bousbecque from 
very early times. The village had a guild of crossbowmen in the times of 
Charles V., which was reconstituted in 171 5. A society of the kind still 
exists there. See Histoire de Bousbecque, p. 1 70. 



TAME PARTRIDGES OF CHIOS. 213 

them or Pliny, for the latter has a passage to the effect 
that hares and partridges never grow fat, So far you 
have no ground for surprise, but listen to the rest of 
the story. Chios abounds in birds of this kind, which 
live there in the houses. Almost every peasant keeps 
more or less of them, according to his means or incli- 
nation. At dawn the public herd summons them by a 
whistle, and they run out in crowds, and gather on the 
road. Then following their keeper, like sheep do with 
us, they go into the fields, where they feed and sun 
themselves all day long. Towards evening they are 
recalled by the same signal, and return home in a 
body to their several roosts. This habit is said to be 
formed by the peasants putting the birds, as soon as 
they are hatched, into their bosom inside their shirt, 
and so carrying them about and nursing them for a 
day or two, lifting them from time to time to their 
mouth and feeding them with spittle. They become 
attached to their masters by such kind treatment (for 
indeed almost every animal has a more lasting feeling 
of gratitude than man), and do not forget those who 
nursed them. One precaution only must be taken ; 
they must not be allowed to pass the night in the fields, 
for if this should occur once or twice they readily 
return to their natural habits, and prefer a free life to 
the company of man. I am doing my best to secure 
one of these partridge-tamers for the Emperor, so as 
to introduce the art into our country. Although I 
have not seen with my own eyes this system in prac- 
tice, yet its existence is established by witnesses so 
numerous and credible, that I place the same reliance 
on my ears that I should on my eyes. The same may 
be said of the following anecdote, which is here so com- 
monly reported and so universally admitted, that any 
one, who ventures to throw doubt upon it, is thought 



214 TURKISH LETTERS. 



an ignoramus. Those who come hither from Egypt, as 
many do every day, uniformly declare, that in that 
country eggs are not put under hens to be hatched in 
our fashion, but that in spring a sort of vast oven is made 
out of a big dunghill by certain men who carry on the 
trade. To this the whole neighbourhood far and wide 
bring their eggs, which are put in and quickened by the 
heat of the sun and the rotting dung. In due time the 
eggs produce chickens, which are distributed by the 
managers of the business to the people who brought 
the eggs, not by counting, for that would be too long a 
process, but by measure. I have less hesitation in 
telling you this, as there is a passage in Vopiscus 
quoting a letter of Adrian's, in which he vents his wrath 
on the Egyptians in the following words : — ' I wish 
them nothing worse than to be fed on their own 
chickens, which are bred in a way too foul to speak of '^ 
I have no doubt this was an old custom among- the 
Egyptians, and I suspect it was on that account that 
Adrian reproached them with the foulness of their food, 
inasmuch as they lived on chickens hatched in dung- 
hills. I may, however, be mistaken, and I leave the 
point for your decision. 

I will now complete the catalogue of my amuse- 
ments. I keep several thoroughbred horses, both 
Syrian, Cilician, Arabian, and Cappadocian, and also 
baggage camels, so as always to have cattle ready for 
my return journey. I do this, because I wish the 
Turks to believe that, having fulfilled all my master's 

' This passage occurs in the life of Saturninus, who uses it in support 
of an invective against the Egyptians. The quotation is from a letter of 
Hadrian's preserved in the works of his freedman Phlegon. (Vopiscus, in 
HistoricB Angustce Scriptores, u. 719, in the Leyden edition of 1671.) 
The Egyptians still hatch chickens in ovens, but the heat is supplied by 
a fire, and not by the hot-bed mentioned in the text. The process is 
described in Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, ii. 450. 



TURKISH HORSES. 213 

instructions, I am only waiting for the Sultan's permis- 
sion to depart ; for this I have now been pressing for a 
long time past in very urgent terms, the truth being 
that, in consequence of their present discords and the 
civil war between the brothers, I do not despair of 
negotiating a peace on fair and reasonable terms. 

I am particularly fond of watching my horses, when 
in the summer evenings they are led out from their 
stable one by one, and picketed in the courtyard to en- 
joy the night air, and take their repose in cooler quar- 
ters. They come prancing from their stalls with their 
necks arched, tossing their manes as if they appreciated 
the interest we take in them. Their fore-feet are 
hobbled, and one of their hind-feet is fastened by a rope 
to a peg. The Turkish horse is the gentlest creature 
in the world, and also the most capable of attachment 
to its master or groom. These qualities are the results 
of the kind treatment they receive from the Turks 
during their early training, I saw, when I was travel- 
ling to Cappadocia through Pontus or the part of 
Bithynia which is deservedly called A xylos^ (woodless), 
what care the peasants take of the foals while they are 
still quite young and tender, how they pet them, 
how they bring them into their rooms and almost to 
their tables, and how they handle them and stroke 
them. They seemed to regard them almost as their 
children. Round their neck all have a band like a neck- 
lace full of amulets against the evil eye, which is 
greatly dreaded. The grooms in whose care they are 
placed treat them with equal kindness, making them 
fond of them by continually stroking them, and never 

' Axylos, a woodless tract in Asia Minor, ' northward of the region of 
lakes and plains, through which leads the road from Afioum Karahissar 
to Koniah, a dry and naked region, which extends as far as the Sangarius 
and Halys.' — Leake, Asia Minor, p. 65. 



2i6 TURKISH LETTERS. 



beating them cruelly with a stick unless they are abso- 
lutely compelled to do so. Being thus used they become 
extremely attached to men, and yet you will not find 
one which this treatment has made a kicker or a biter 
or refractory. Such vices are seldom met with in this 
country. But, good heavens, how different our system 
is from theirs ! According to our method grooms 
think it essential to use the roughest words and loudest 
tones in talking to their horses, and to be for ever 
thrashing them. The consequence is that the horses 
quiver all over with terror on their entering the stable, 
and regard them with equal hatred and fear.^ 

The Turks like to have them trained to kneel down 
at command and so take up their rider, and to pick up 
from the ground in their teeth a stick, a mace, or a 
sword, and to give it to their master in the saddle. 
When they have learned to do these things, as an 
honour and a mark of their proficiency, they fit silver 
rings in their nostrils, to show that they have been 
thoroughly trained. I saw a horse who, when his 
master was thrown from the saddle, would stand by 
him without moving a step, and others who would go 
round their groom, as he stood at a distance, and halt 
at his bidding. I also saw some who, when their 
master was dining with me in a room upstairs, kept 
their ears pricked up to catch his voice, and neighed 
when they heard it. It is a peculiarity of these 
horses that they always come in at the end of their 
work with stiff and outstretched necks. Again, they 
cannot be pulled up or turned sharply, which I think 

• Evelyn narrates how he went to see some Turkish horses captured at 
the siege of Vienna ; he admired their spirit, and says they were, 'with 
all this, so gentle and tractable as called to mind what I remember 
Busbequius speaks of them to the reproch of our groomes in Europe 
who bring up their horses so churhshly as makes most of them retain 
their ill habits.'— Evelyn, Diary, p. 461, Chandos Edition. 



TURKISH GROOMS. 217 



I may say is the fault of the bit, which is of the same 
kmd and shape throughout Turkey, and is not, as 
among us, made more or less severe to suit the horse's 
mouth. Their horses' shoes are not so wide open in 
the middle as with us, but are almost solid and un- 
broken, so as to protect the feet more thoroughly/ 
Turkish horses live much longer than ours, for you 
may see some twenty years old with as much spirit 
and strength as eight-year-olds have with us, and 
some, which for their great services were pensioned 
for life in the Sultan's stables, are said to have lasted 
to their fiftieth year, and even longer. During the 
hot summer nights the Turks do not keep their 
horses under cover, but expose them, as I said, to the 
night air with horse-cloths over them, their litter being 
composed of dry dung. For this purpose all through 
the year they gather the horses' droppings, and after 
drying them in the sun break them up into powder. 
This forms their horses' bedding, and is the only kind 
of litter they have. They use no straw, not even 
for food, but diet their horses on a moderate portion of 
hay and a little barley. They prefer having them 
too thin to too fat, considering that in this condition 
they are fitter for travelling and work of every kind. 
They cover their horses with the rugs I mentioned, in 
summer just the same as in winter, but change them 
according to the season. They consider these cover- 
ings useful for producing a sleek coat, and also neces- 
sary as a protection against cold, for their horses are 
chilly and cannot stand exposure. 

As I said, I enjoy looking at my horses when, to- 
wards sunset, they are being picketed out in the court. 

1 ' They were shod with yron made round and closed at the heele 
with a hole in the middle about as wide as a shilling. The hoofes most 
intire.' — Evelyn, Diary, p. 462. 



2i8 TURKISH LETTERS. 

When I call them by their names of Arab or Cara- 
manian, or whatever else it may be, they neigh in reply, 
and give me a look. I have taught them to know me 
by sometimes going- down and giving them each a 
pumpkin skin. In truth I am glad of any employment 
to divert my thoughts from my troubles. 

I have six she camels procured, nominally for the 
purpose of carrying baggage, but in reality that I may 
bring them to the royal family, as I think it not impos- 
sible that they may like to keep a stud of these useful 
animals. There are two things from which, in my 
opinion, the Turks derive the greatest advantage, 
namely, rice among grains and the camel among beasts 
of burden, both of which are exceedingly well suited 
for the distant campaigns they make. The first keeps 
well, affords a wholesome food for men, and a little 
of it goes a long way. Camels carry the heaviest 
weights, endure hunger and thirst, and require very 
little care. One driver can attend to six camels. They 
are, I may say, the most obedient creatures in the 
world, and they need no currycomb or scraper, but are 
groomed with brushes as clothes are with us. They 
lie, or, more correctly speaking, kneel on the bare 
ground to receive their loads. But if the load should 
be excessive, they give a grunt by way of protest and 
refuse to rise. If the weight be unduly heavy, it does 
not take much to rupture them, especially if the road 
be muddy or slippery. It is a pretty sight to see them 
kneeling in a circle with their heads together, and 
taking their food and drink out of the same bucket or 
manger without any quarrelling or discontent, though 
their fare be scanty. On an emergency, if food is 
scarce, they browse on brambles and thorns, and the 
more these make their mouths bleed the more they 
enjoy them. The Scythians supply some camels, but 



TURKISH COMMISSARIAT. 219 

more are produced by Syria and Assyria, where they 
are kept in very large herds and are bred in great num- 
bers. They are so cheap there, that sometimes a mare 
of good pedigree is bartered for a hundred camels. 
Yet in this perhaps it is not the cheapness of the camels 
that is so wonderful as the price asked and given for 
the mares, for such mares are valued so highly that 
the owner of one considers himself a rich man. The 
test of their excellence consists in their being ridden 
down the side of a steep and high mountain, and those 
that do not stumble in the descent are highly prized. 

The Turkish monarch o-oine to war takes with him 
over 40,000 camels and nearly as many baggage mules, 
of which a great part, when he is invading Persia, are 
loaded with rice and other kinds of grain. These mules 
and camels also serve to carry tents and armour, and 
likewise tools and munitions for the campaign. The 
territories, which bear the name of Persia, and are 
ruled by the Sophi, or Kizilbash as the Turks call 
him,^ are less fertile than our country, and even such 
crops as they bear are laid waste by the inhabitants in 
time of invasion in hopes of starving out the enemy, 
so that it is very dangerous for an army to invade 
Persia, if it be not furnished with abundant supplies. 
The invading army carefully abstains from encroaching 
on its magazines at the outset ; as they are well 
aware that, when the season for campaigning draws 
to a close, they will have to retreat over districts 
wasted by the enemy, or scraped as bare by countless 
hordes of men and droves of baggage animals, as if 
they had been devastated by locusts ; accordingly they 
reserve their stores as much as possible for this emer- 
gency. Then the Sultan's magazines are opened, and a 
ration just sufficient to sustain life is daily weighed out 

* See note 2, page 299. 



2 20 TURKISH LETTERS. 



to the Janissaries and other troops of the royal house- 
hold.i The rest of the army are badly off, unless 
they have provided some supplies at their own ex- 
pense. And this is generally the case, for the greater 
number, and especially the cavalry, having from their 
long experience in war already felt such inconveniences, 
lead with them a sumpter horse by a halter, on which 
they carry many of the necessaries of life ; namely, a 
small piece of canvas which they use as a tent, for 
protection against sun and rain, with the addition of 
some clothes and bedding ; and as provisions for their 
private use, a leathern bag or two of the finest flour, 
with a small pot of butter, and some spices and salt, 
on which they sustain life when they are hard pressed. 
On such occasions they take out a few spoonfuls of 
flour and put them into water, adding some butter, 
and seasoning the mess with salt and spices ; these in- 
gredients are boiled, and a large bowl of gruel is thus 
obtained. Of this they eat once or twice a day, ac- 
cording to the quantity they have, without any bread, 
unless they have brought some biscuit with them. In 
this way they are able to support themselves from 
their own supplies for a month, or if necessary longer. 
Some fill a bladder with beef, dried and reduced to 
powder, which forms a highly nutritious food and ex- 
pands greatly in the cooking, like the flour of which I 
spoke above. Sometimes too they have recourse to 
horseflesh ; dead horses are of course plentiful in their 
great hosts, and such beasts as are in good condition 
when they die furnish a meal not to be despised by 
famished soldiers, I must not forget to tell you of 

' Cyrus, in his expedition against his brother Artaxerxes, took with 
him 400 waggons loaded with barley and wine that, in case provisions 
should be very scarce, he might have the means of supplying the Greeks 
who were the flower of his army.— Xenophon, Anabasis, i. 10. 



TURKISH AND CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS. 



221 



the men who have lost their horses. When the Sultan 
moves his camp they stand in a long line by the side 
of the road with their saddles on their heads, as a sign 
that they have lost their steeds and need assistance 
for the purchase of others. An allowance is then made 
to them by the Sultan at his discretion. 

From this you will see that it is the patience, self- 
denial, and thrift of the Turkish soldier that enable 
him to face the most trying circumstances, and come 
safely out of the dangers that surround him. What a 
contrast to our men ! Christian soldiers on a campaign 
refuse to put up with their ordinary food, and call for 
thrushes, becaficos, and such like dainty dishes ! If 
these are not supplied they grow mutinous and work 
their own ruin ; and, if they are supplied, they are 
ruined all the same. For each man is his own worst 
enemy, and has no foe more deadly than his own 
intemperance, which is sure to kill him, if the enemy 
be not quick. It makes me shudder to think of what 
the result of a struggle between such different systems 
must be ; one of us must prevail and the other be 
destroyed, at any rate we cannot both exist in safety. 
On their side is the vast wealth of their empire, unim- 
paired resources, experience and practice in arms, a 
veteran soldiery, an uninterrupted series of victories, 
readiness to endure hardships, union, order, discipline,' 
thrift, and watchfulness. On ours are found an empty 
exchequer, luxurious habits, exhausted resources, 
broken spirits, a raw and insubordinate soldiery, and 
greedy generals; there is no regard for discipline, 
license runs riot, the men indulge in drunkenness 
and debauchery, and, worst of all, the enemy are 
accustomed to victory, we, to defeat. Can we doubt 
what the result must be .? The only obstacle is Persia, 
whose position on his rear forces the invader to take 



2 22 TURKISH LETTERS. 

precautions. The fear of Persia gives us a respite, 
but it is only for a time. When he has secured him- 
self in that quarter, he will fall upon us with all the 
resources of the East. How ill prepared we are to 
meet such an attack it is not for me to say. 

I now return to the point from which I made this 
digression. I mentioned that baggage animals are used 
in a campaign for carrying armour and tents. These 
for the most part belong to the Janissaries. The Turks 
take great care to have their soldiers in good health 
and protected against the inclemency of the weather. 
They must defend themselves from the enemy, for 
their health the State will undertake to provide. There- 
fore you may see a Turk better clad than armed. 
They are especially afraid of cold, and even in summer 
time wear three garments, of which the innermost one, 
or shirt, is woven of coarse thread and gives a great 
deal of warmth. For protection against cold and rain 
they are furnished with tents, in which each man is 
given just room enough for his body, so that one tent 
holds twenty-five or thirty Janissaries. The cloth for 
the clothes I referred to is supplied by the State, and 
is distributed after the following fashion. The soldiers 
at nightfall are summoned by companies to the office 
for the distribution of such stores, where parcels of 
cloth are ready in separate packets according to the 
number of men in each company. They march in, and 
take their chance in the dark, so that if any soldier's 
cloth is of inferior quality to that of his comrades, he 
has nought to grumble at save his own bad luck. For 
the same reason their pay is not given them by tale, 
but by weight, to prevent anyone accusing the pay- 
master of giving him light or clipped coins. Moreover, 
their pay is always given them the day before it is 
actually due. 



SERVING OUT ARMOUR. 223 



The convoy of armour, of which I spoke, is in- 
tended chiefly for the use of the royal horse-guards, 
as the Janissaries are lightly equipped, and generally 
do not fight at close quarters, but at a distance with 
muskets. Well, when the enemy is near, and a battle 
is expected, the stock of armour is produced, consisting 
for the most part of antiquated pieces picked up on 
the fields which have been the scene of Turkish vic- 
tories ; they are distributed to the royal horse guards, 
who at other times have only their light shield to 
protect them. Where so little pains is taken to pro- 
vide each man with a suit that fits him, I need hardly 
tell you that they are but clumsily equipped. One 
man's cuirass is too tight, another's helmet too big ; a 
third gets a coat of mail too heavy for him to bear ; one 
way or another no one is properly accoutred. Yet they 
never grumble, holding that a man who quarrels with 
his armour must needs be a cowardly fellow, and 
are confident that they will make a stout fight of it 
themselves whatever their equipment may be. This 
feeling is the result of their great successes and military 
experience. In the same spirit they do not hesitate 
to turn their veteran infantry, who never have fought 
on horseback, into cavalry, for they are firmly con- 
vinced that a man who has courage and military 
experience will do brave service in whatever kind of 
fighting he may be engaged. 

I think the Romans were of the same opinion, 
especially Julius Caisar, who they relate was wont to 
say, 'his soldiers even when perfumed would fight 
well.' 1 F^or what should we consider to have been his 

' The quotation is from Suetonius, Life of Julius CcEsar, chap. 67. 
Suetonius observes that sometimes Caesar, after a great victory, relaxed 
the strict rules of discipline, and allowed his army to abandon themselves 
to the utmost license, boasting that ' his soldiers, even if perfumed 



2 24 TURKISH LETTERS. 



intention, when, before he went to his conference with 
Ariovistus, he mounted the tenth legion ? In my opi- 
nion it was that they might fight on horseback if neces- 
sary, a kind of fighting to which they were by no 
means accustomed. For we know that among the 
Romans the drill of the infantry was quite different 
from that of the cavalry. But if, in your opinion, 
Caesar's design was to transport the legion on horses 
and employ them on foot, we are driven to the con- 
clusion that Caesar involved his troops in a most 
hazardous operation. For the highly trained cavalry 
of Ariovistus were so close that they could annoy the 
Romans with stones ; consequently, if they had sud- 
denly charged, the legion would have had no time to 
dismount, send their horses to the rear, and form line 
of battle. According to our notions, such an arrange- 
ment would have been the height of folly. But, 
whichever of these explanations is the correct one, 
it was by confidence in their experience of arms, 
though with a training quite different from our system, 
that the Romans in ancient times brought their wars 
to a triumphant conclusion, and the same reason will 
account for the uniform successes of the Turks in 
modern days. But enough of this. 

I now return to what I mentioned, namely, that the 
Turks behave kindly to every sort of animal. The doo" 

for a banquet, would fight well.' The conference with Ariovistus is de- 
scribed in CjEsar de Bella Galileo, i. 43-45, and in Merivale, chap. vii. : 
'Each was attended by a squadron of cavalry of equal numbers. 
Casar had no Roman cavalry, nor could he safely confide in his Gauhsh 
auxiliaries : yet he would not reject the arrangement proposed by his 
adversary, nor betray any appearance of distrust or dread. He caused 
a party of Gauls to dismount, and placed upon their horses the infantry 
of his favourite legion ' (the tenth). The conference was interrupted by 
the impatience of the German horse, who suddenly assailed the Romans 
with stones and arrows, See also pages 48 and 49. 



MAHOMET AND HIS CAT. 225 



among them Is considered a foul and unclean animal 
and therefore they keep it out of their houses ; its 
place is taken by the cat, a creature endowed, as they 
thmk, with far more correct notions of propriety than 
the dog. For this preference they quote the example of 
Mahomet their lawgiver, who was so fond of his cat 
that when she had fallen asleep on his sleeve as he sat 
at table, and the hour summoned him to the mosque to 
his devotions, he preferred to cut off his sleeve rather 
than disturb her sleep. Notwithstanding that such is 
their feeling about dogs, and though they are public 
property, not having masters, and watching special 
streets and wards rather than particular houses, and 
though they hve on the refuse which is thrown out into 
the highways, yet if there should be in the neighbour- 
hood a bitch with young, they go to her and pile round 
her bones and scraps of cakes and porridge, and this 
they think a charitable action. If, in conversation on 

he. ^' K \r'""^t '^'"^ ^^ ^'"'"g '« ^ brute what 
hey probably would not give to a rational being of 
their own nation, or at any rate would refuse to a 
Christian, they replied, that inasmuch as God has 
endowed man with reason, a noble organ for everv 
purpose, so that no misfortune befalls him, which he 
has not brought on himself by his own misconduct he 
therefore deserves less compassion ; but that no hing 
has been granted to brutes by God except certa^^ 
natural instincts and appetites, which they cannot he " 
ollowing, and, therefore, they have a claim upon us 
for sympathy and assistance. For this reason theTare 
indignant If any beast be put to death by tortvS^ "' 

a bird the size of a cuckoo, and almost the same'colot ^ 



VOL. I. Q 



226 TURKISH LETTERS. 



its beak was not large, but its throat could be expanded 
by force so as to receive the fist of a full-grown man. 
As he was naturally fond of a joke, and was struck by 
the strangeness of the phenomenon, he fastened the 
bird to the lintel of his door with its wings outspread 
and with its throat forced open by a peg, so as to show 
a huge orifice. The Turks who were passing by in 
crowds kept stopping and looking up, but when they 
perceived the bird was alive and moving, struck with 
compassion they exclaimed, it was a shame that a 
harmless bird should be so tortured, called the gold- 
smith out, seized him by the neck, and dragged him 
before the judge who tries capital charges, and he was 
near being bastinadoed, when a messenger came from 
the gentleman, who administers the law to the Vene- 
tians at Constantinople, and is called the Venetian 
Baily,^ to demand his release ; the application was 
favourably received by the judge, and the goldsmith 
was dismissed, to the great indignation of the Turks 
who were present. Thus was he preserved. This 
goldsmith was a frequent visitor at my house, and 
I had a hearty laugh when he told me the whole story, 
and what a fright he had had. Moreover he brought 
the bird for my inspection. I have described its ap- 
pearance, and it is said to fly at night and suck cows' 
udders. I fancy it is the same as the goat-sucker of 
the ancients. This story will show you how merciful 

^ The Venetian ambassador to the Porte bore the title of Bailo or 
Baily. This title was probably given to him on account of the protec- 
tion and jurisdiction he exercised with regard to the persons and goods 
of all Venetian subjects, who lived and traded in all the factories of 
the Levant. He, with the ambassadors of the Pope and the Emperor, 
took precedence of all other ambassadors. On account of the importance 
of the post, appointments to it were not made by the Senate, but by the 
Great Council. Marc Antonio Barbaro, the subject of Yriarte's inte- 
resting work, Lm. Vie d'tin Patricien de Vetiise, was appointed to this 
office in 1568. 



TURKISH KINDNESS TO BIRDS. 227 



the Turks are to all kinds oi animals, and especially 
to birds. ^ 

Opposite our lodging there Is a lofty plane tree 
remarkable for the extent of ground its branches cover, 
and the thickness of its foliage ; here bird-catchers 
sometimes station themselves with a great number of 
small birds. Many people go to them and ransom 
their prisoners for a trifle, and then release them from 
their hands one by one. They generally fly up into 
the plane tree, where they clean themselves from the 
dirt of their cages, chirping all the while. Then the 
Turks who ransomed them say to each other : ' Do 
you hear how yon bird congratulates himself on his 
freedom, and is thanking me for it .? ' 

You will ask then, are the Turks such Pythagoreans 
that every animal is considered sacred among them, 
and that they eat no flesh .? Far from it ; on the con- 
trary they usually abstain from nothing that may be set 
before them, whether boiled or roast. Indeed they 
say that sheep were born for slaughter, but they think it 
atrocious that people should seek to find pleasure in 
their agonies and torments. As for the smaller birds, 
who make the country places and fields resound with 
their song, some of the Turks cannot be induced to 
kill them, or even to keep them shut up in cages, 
thinking it a shame to rob them of their liberty. There 
are diff'erent opinions, however, among them on this 
subject. Some at any rate keep in their houses night- 

j This story is referred to by ^z.zon, Essays, XIII. : Of Goodness 
and Goodness of Nature. ' The inclination to goodness is imprinted 
deeply m the nature of man ; insomuch that if it issue not towards man 
It will take unto other living creatures ; as it is seen in the Turks a' 
cruel people, who nevertheless are kind to beasts, and give alms to dogs 
and birds ; insomuch as Busbechius reporteth, a Christian boy in Con- 
stantinople had like to have been stoned for gagging in a waggishness 
a ong-billed fowl.' Bacon, in his Essays, also alludes to Jehangir 
Solyman s son, to Roxolana, to Selim, and to the fate of Mustapha ' 

Q 2 



228 TURKISH LETTERS. 

ingales, that sing very sweetly, and make a profit by 
hiring them out in the spring-time. I have seen people 
carrying about goldfinches so well trained, that, when 
a coin was shown them from a window above, they 
would fly to almost any distance to get it ; and, if the 
holder did not let it be pulled away, they would perch 
on his hand and go with him from room to room, 
trying all the time to wrest the coin out of his hand ; 
the moment they got it, they would fly back by the 
way they had come to their master, who was standing 
in the street and calling them back by ringing a bell, 
and would give him the coin, receiving some hemp- 
seed as a reward. But I must stop, or you will think 
that I wish to imitate Pliny or /Elian, and compose a 
history of animals. 

Passing on to other topics, I will tell you about 
Turkish women and the manner in which they are 
guarded. The Turks are the most careful people in 
the world of the modesty of their wives, and therefore 
keep them shut up at home and hide them away, so 
that they scarce see the light of day/ But if they 
have to go into the streets, they are sent out so covered 
and wrapt up in veils that they seem to those who 
meet them mere gliding ghosts. They have the means 
of seeing men through their linen or silken veils, 
while no part of their own body is exposed to men's 
view. For it is a received opinion among them, that 
no woman who is distinguished in the very smallest 
degree by her figure or youth, can be seen by a man 
without his desiring her, and therefore without her 
receiving some contamination ; and so it is the univer- 

1 Busbecq's countrywomen enjoyed great liberty. ' Les femmes, 
oultre ce qu'elles sont de belle et excellente forme, sent de beau maintien 
et gracieuses ; car elles commencent dds leur enfance, selon la coustume 
du pais, k converser librement avec un chacun.' — L. Guicciardini, De- 
scription de tout le pais bas, p. 38. 



SLAVES AND WIVES. 229 



sal practice to confine the women to the harem. Their 
brothers are allowed to see them, but not their brothers- 
in-law. Men of the richer classes, or of higher rank, 
make it a condition when they marry, that their wives 
shall never set foot outside the threshold, and that 
no man or woman shall be admitted to see them for 
any reason whatever, not even their nearest relations, 
except their fathers and mothers, who are allowed 
to pay a visit to their daughters at the Turkish 
Easter. ^ 

On the other hand, if the wife has a father of high 
rank, or has brought a larger dowry than usual, the 
husband promises on his part that he will take no con- 
cubine, but will keep to her alone. Otherwise, the 
Turks are not forbidden by any law to have as many 
concubines as they please in addition to their lawful 
wives. Between the children of wives and those of 
concubines there is no distinction, and they are con- 
sidered to have equal rights. As for concubines they 
either buy them for themselves or win them in war ; 
when they are tired of them there is nothing to prevent 
their bringing them to market and selling them • but 
they are entitled to their freedom if they have borne 
children to their master. This privilege Roxolana 
Solyman's wife, turned to her own advantage, when she 
had borne him a son while still a slave. Having thus 
obtained her freedom, and become her own mistress 
she refused to submit any longer to his will unless' 
contrary to the custom of the Ottoman Sultans she 
was made his lawful wife. The only distinction be- 
tween the lawful wife and the concubine is, that the 

; The festival called by Busbecq the Turkish Easter was that of 
Ba.ram. It succeeds Ramazan, the month of abstinence, which he terms 
their Lent. It lasts three days, and seventy days later is the Kourban 
Bairam, or Feast of Sacrifice, which lasts four days 



230 TURKISH LETTERS. 

former has a dowry, while the slaves have none. A 
wife who has a portion settled on her is mistress of 
her husband's house, and all the other women have 
to obey her orders. The husband, however, may 
choose which of them shall spend the night with him. 
He makes known his wishes to the wife, and she 
sends to him the slave he has selected. Hardly a 
pleasant task, one would fancy, for a wife, whatever the 
feelings of the other might be ! Only Friday night, 
which is their Sabbath, is supposed to belong to the 
wife ; and she grumbles if her husband deprives her 
of it. On all the other nights he may do as he 
pleases. 

Divorces are granted among them for many reasons 
which it is easy for the husbands to invent. The di- 
vorced wife receives back her dowry, unless the divorce 
has been caused by some fault on her part. There is 
more difficulty in a woman's getting a divorce from 
her husband. Among the reasons which are considered 
sufficient for granting a divorce are the deprivation of 
the necessaries of life by the husband, and certain 
kinds of ill treatment. In the latter case the woman 
goes before the judge, and makes a declaration that she 
is unable to remain any longer with her husband ; 
when the judge asks the reason, she gives no answer, 
but takes off one of her shoes and turns it upside down. 
This the judge accepts as sufficient evidence that her 
husband has treated her improperly. 

People of consideration with large harems appoint 
eunuchs to guard them. They also have baths at 
home, in which they and their women perform their 
ablutions, while people of smaller means patronise the 
public baths. They consider cleanliness of the body 
as even of more importance in a religious point of view 
than purity of the soul, which is the reason of their 



BATHS AND LOVE-MAKING. 231 



frequent ablutions. The great mass of women use 
the pubhc baths for females, and assemble there in 
large numbers. Among them are found many girls 
of exquisite beauty, who have been brought together 
from different quarters of the globe by various chances 
of fortune ; so cases occur of women falling in love 
with one another at these baths, in much the same 
fashion as young men fall in love with maidens in our 
own country. Thus you see a Turk's precautions are 
sometimes of no avail, and when he has succeeded in 
keeping his wives from a male lover, he is still in 
danger from a female rival ! The women become 
deeply attached to each other, and the baths supply 
them with opportunities of meeting. Some therefore 
keep their women away from them as much as possible, 
but they cannot do so altogether, as the law allows them 
to go there. This evil affects only the common people ; 
the richer classes bathe at home, as I mentioned. 

It happened that in a gathering of this kind, an 
elderly woman fell in love with a girl, the daughter of 
an inhabitant of Constantinople, a man of small means. 
When her courtship and flatteries were not attended 
with the success her mad passion demanded, she ven- 
tured on a course, which to our notions appears almost 
incredible. Changing her dress, she pretended she was 
a man, and hired a house near where the girl's father 
lived, representing herself as one of the slaves of the 
Sultan, belonging to the class of cavasses ; and it was 
not long before she took advantage of her position as a 
neighbour, cultivated the father's acquaintance, and 
asked for his daughter in marriage. Need I say more .? 
The proposal appearing to be satisfactory, the father 
readily consents, and promises a dowry proportionate 
to his means. The wedding-day was fixed, and then 
this charming bridegroom enters the chamber of the 



232 TURKISH LETTERS. 



bride, takes off her veil/ and begins to chat with her. 
She recognises at once her old acquaintance, screams 
out, and calls back her father and mother, who discover 
that they have given their daughter in marriage to a 
woman instead of a man. The next day they bring 
her before the Aga of the Janissaries, who was govern- 
ing the city in the Sultan's absence. He tells her 
that an old woman like her ought to know better than 
to attempt so mad a freak, and asks, if she is not 
ashamed of herself ? She replies, ' Tush ! you know 
not the might of love, and God grant that you may 
never experience its power.' At this the Aga could 
not restrain his laughter ; and ordered her to be carried 
off at once, and drowned in the sea. Thus the strange 
passion of this old woman brought her to a bad end. 

The Turks do not inquire very closely into secret 
vices, that they may not give an opportunity for false 
charges, but they punish severely open profligacy and 
crimes that are detected. 

I am afraid your ears have been offended by my 
account of such an instance of wickedness ; but, if I 
can, I will remove by a pleasanter story any disagree- 
able impressions the former may have left, for I am 
quite sure you will have a good laugh over what I am 
going to tell you. 

There came lately during the disturbances in Hun- 
gary a courier from the Emperor. The Pashas desired 
that he should not as usual be brought directly to me, 
but first be taken to the Divan, their object beino- to 
know the contents of the Emperor's letters before they 
were delivered to me, as they suspected that many 
things were suppressed, and that I did not give them 

' See Thirty Years in a Harem for a description of taking off the 
veil. ... It was the conclusion of the marriage, and the Bridegroom 
made a present to the Bride on the occasion. 



THE PASHAS AT FAULT. 233 



a faithful account of the tenor of despatches. The 
courier, however, foreseeing what was coming, con- 
cealed the Emperor's packet, and delivered only my 
private letters. The Pashas had been previously in- 
formed by their interpreter Ibrahim, who is by birth 
a Pole, that despatches which contained confidential 
instructions were not written in the usual characters, 
but in a new sort of letters ; namely, in what we call 
cipher. As they were examining all the letters, they 
chanced to come upon one from a friend of mine, the 
Burgundian Secretary, which Ibrahim perceived was 
written on unusually thin paper, through which the 
letters could be seen when held to the light. He ex- 
claimed, ' I have found it,' and told them to let the 
others be, saying this was the one that contained im- 
portant matter. The Pashas, telling him to break the 
seal, read it, and translate it, assumed an attitude of 
attention and expectation. Ibrahim, however, declared 
that he could not make out a single letter. At this 
the Pashas were amazed, and asked him if he had 
never learnt, or had forgotten, Christian characters ? to 
which Ibrahim replied, that this kind of writing was 
known only to the confidential secretaries of Sovereigns. 
As they did not clearly understand his answer, they 
said : ' But if so, why do you delay .? why don't you 
hurry off at once to the Secretary of the Venetian or 
the Florentine Baily ? ' Off flew Ibrahim in hot haste. 
Now the letter was written in such characters that a 
boy ten years old could have read it, but botli the 
Secretaries, seeing it was addressed to me, after one 
glance returned it, declaring that without a knowledge 
of the private key it was impossible for anyone to 
decipher the writing. Ibrahim returned with this reply, 
and the Pashas then deliberated what was to be done! 
Then some one made the following suggestion : 



234 TURKISH LETTERS. 



' There is in the city the Patriarch, who is acquainted 
with many kinds of characters ; if he, being an old 
man and a Christian, cannot read them no one else 
can.' They agreed to the proposal, but the Patriarch 
declared that he could not make out a single jot of 
them, for the characters were neither Greek, nor Latin, 
nor Hebrew, nor Chaldee. So they brought the letter 
back having had their trouble for nothing. Then, 
Ali Pasha, though on other occasions he showed that 
he was by no means a fool, turned to Roostem and 
said, ' Cardassi (which means ' brother ' in Turkish), 
I remember I had a slave, by birth an Italian, who 
knew all languages and characters. Were he still alive 
I feel no doubt that he could have read and interpreted 
these characters ; but he died some time ago.' Not 
knowing what further plan to adopt, they decided to 
send me the letters as they could make no use of 
them. When I had heard the whole story from Ibrahim 
(for it was impossible to conceal it), I made vehement 
complaints, and was very indignant at their having 
thus intercepted my letters, without paying any regard 
to international law, or to the Emperor from whom 
they had come ; and I also told him to wait and hear 
some passages translated from them, that he might 
communicate them to the Pashas the next day. 

On the morrow, when he appeared in the Divan, 
the Pashas asked him, ' could I read those characters ? ' 
' As easily,' said Ibrahim, 'as his own name ; ' and at 
the same time proceeded to lay before them certain 
statements which I had desired him to communicate. 
Then Roostem remarked : ' The Ambassador is a 
young man, and yet he understands what the old Patri- 
arch cannot so much as read ; he will certainly turn out 
a great man, if he attams old age.' 

I do not know if it was in consequence of this 



ROOSTEM TRIES TO CONVERT BUSBECQ. 235 



occurrence, or of something else, that this same 
Roostem, in the course of a conversation I had with 
him some days afterwards on pubHc business, began to 
throw off his usual reserve, and finally went so far as 
to ask me, 'Whether I had any objection to be initiated 
into their religion, and to become a worshipper of the 
true God ? If I should do so, Solyman, through his 
influence, was ready to confer on me great honours 
and great rewards.' I replied that I was determined 
to remain in the religion in which I was born, and 
which was professed by my master. ' Very well,' said 
Roostem ; ' but what is to become of your soul .? ' 
' For my soul too,' I replied, ' I have good hopes.' 
Then, after a moment's reflection, he said, ' You are 
right ; and I myself do not dissent from the doctrine 
that men who have passed this life in holiness and 
innocence will be partakers of eternal bliss, whatever 
religion they may have followed.' Such views are 
entertained by some Turks, but they are thought here- 
tical, and Roostem himself is not considered alto- 
gether orthodox. The Turks deem it their duty and 
an act of charity, to make one offer to a Christian of 
whom they have a good opinion, of partaking in their 
rites and religion, in the hope of saving, if they can, a 
man otherwise destined to eternal perdition, and think 
such an offer is to be considered the greatest possible 
honour and mark of kindness they can show. 

I will now give you another conversation with 
Roostem, that you may understand how widely the 
Persians are separated from the Turks by religion.^ 
He once asked me if war was still going on between 
the Kings of Spain and France. On my replying that 
it was, ' What right have they,' said he, ' to wage war 
on each other, when they are united by the ties of 

' See note, page 159. 



236 TURKISH LETTERS. 



religion ?' ' The same,' said I, ' as you have to fight 
with the Persians. There are cities, provinces, and 
kingdoms about which they are at variance.' ' It is 
quite a different case,' said Roostem, ' for we, you must 
know, hate the Persians worse, and consider them 
more impious than we do you Christians.' 

I will now give you some news of events in Hun- 
gary, where, since my return, each side has met with 
chequered fortune in its enterprises. To write a full 
and particular account would be tedious and out of 
place.' Isabella, the wife of King John, returned to 
Transylvania with her son, after repudiating the agree- 
ment and the treaties she had made with the Emperor 
Ferdinand, and from fear of the Turkish arms, the 
people of Transylvania again submitted to the old yoke. 
Even these successes did not satisfy the Turks, who 
appeared to be aiming at the acquisition of the whole 
of Hungary. Accordingly, among other operations 
they resolved to besiege the very strong position of 
Szigeth,^ which derives its name from the Hungarian 
word for island. For this enterprise they selected as 
general a man, whose successful career was calculated 
to inspire his troops with confidence and his enemies 
with fear. This was Ali Pasha, an Albanian, who had 
distinguished himself whilst governor of Hungary by 
his successes, the chief of which was his decisive victory 
over Sforzia Palavicini and the Bishop of Flinfkirchen. 
He was summoned from his distant command on the 
Persian frontier, and the greatest hopes were excited 
by his appearance in Constantinople. My colleagues 
were then still here, pressing for leave to return. The 
Pashas thought it well that we should see the man who, 
they considered, would be regarded by us as a very 

' See Sketch of Hungarian History. 

" Ten years later Solyman died while besieging this place. 



ALT PASHA THE EUNUCH. 237 



thunderbolt of war. He received us courteously, and 
addressed us at length, telling us that we ought to 
endeavour to make peace, and save Hungary from 
being wasted with fire and sword, by acceding to the 
terms which his Emperor ^ proposed. We answered 
that peace was our first object, provided it was granted 
on such terms as were consistent with the honour of 
otiv Emperor; but that we were forbidden to agree 
to such a peace as would be contrary to the interests 
and dignity of his Majesty. So we departed, having 
been first entertained by him with eati sticrde. 

Ali was a eunuch, but his spirit seemed to have 
gained what his body had lost. He was of short 
stature, bloated person, and yellowish complexion ; the 
expression of his face was morose, his eyes had a fierce 
look, and his shoulders were high and broad. Between 
them his head was sunk and concealed, From his 
mouth projected two teeth like a boar's tusks ; his voice 
was discordant. To describe him in a word, he was a 
regular devil. 

He set out the next day with a great train, and 
having reached Hungary, he spent some time in pre- 
parations ; then, marching on Szigeth, he drove away 
the men who were rebuilding Babocsa — a fortress be- 
longing to the Emperor, But his Majesty, who had 
already been informed of Ali Pasha's designs, deter- 
mined to send one of his three sons to encounter his 
onslaught, and do battle for Hungary. The young 
Archduke Ferdinand, on whom his choice fell, is equal 
in courage to any of the famous generals of ancient 
times. He took up a position against All's army with 
a small body of picked cavalry. Turks who were 
there told me that it was a goodly sight to behold the 
splendour, discipline, and steadiness of our troops. 

^ See note i, page 194. 



238 TURKISH LETTERS. 

The Pasha, whose army was much the largest, and 
who was naturally a man of fierce and haughty temper, 
could not brook that Christians should dare to face 
him. Some marshy ground, which could not be crossed 
without danger, lay between the two armies. Ferdi- 
nand, whose object was to relieve Szigeth and to raise 
the siege, had no need to cross ; but Ali Pasha, on the 
contrary, was obliged to risk everything, as he had 
no choice between advancing and committing himself 
to an ignominious and hazardous retreat. He, there- 
fore, seeing to what a strait he was reduced, decided 
to risk everything on the success of his movement, 
and was on the point of plunging with his steed into 
the marsh, when a Sanjak-bey who was among the 
bystanders, whose name I have forgotten, perceiving 
the greatness of the danger, leaped down from his 
horse, and, laying his hand on the Pasha's rein, said, 
' My Sultan ' (for this is the title given by the Turks 
to men of high rank), ' do you not see the peril into 
which you are wilfully bringing yourself and us ? You 
do not sufficiendy take into account the difficulty of 
crossing this quagmire. The Christians are waiting for 
us on the other side with stout hearts and strong lances, 
and their serried squadrons will charge down on our 
straggling column as soon as the vanguard has got 
clear of the marsh, while the rest are still struggling 
in the mud. They will take advantage of our rashness, 
and fight with the certainty of defeating us. Restrain 
your wrath, and recollect yourself. Preserve the lives 
of your gallant soldiers and your own for our Emperor's ^ 
service and for better days. God will be sure to give 
us an opportunity of mending this day's work.' At 
these words Ali recovered his senses, and restrained 
himself Every Turk on the field admitted that the 
' See note i, page 194. 



MILITARY ETIQUETTE. 239 



army had been saved by the advice of the Sanjak-bey. 
However, when news of the affair reached Constanti- 
nople, although not even the Vizierial (that is the chief) 
Pashas could deny that Ali's army owed its safety to 
the prompt interference of the Sanjak-bey, and though 
they praised his loyalty and generalship in private, yet 
they were unwilling that such a breach of discipline 
should go unpunished, and thus become a precedent 
for the future. Accordingly, they removed him from 
office, recalled him to Constantinople, and they placed 
him on the list of those who had been dismissed the 
service, until, when they thought his fault had been 
sufficiently atoned for, they promoted him to a much 
better government than the one he had lost, which made 
It quite plain that he had been thus punished rather to 
preserve discipline than because he had done wrong 

Ah not long afterwards returned to Buda. During 
his retreat his troops were so harassed by the Hun 
garians that he lost a large part of his army He 
arrived at the capital of Hungary a broken and dis- 
honoured man, where he died shorriy afterwards of 
grief and shame. 

On the other hand, the Archduke Ferdinand re- 
turned to his father with well-earned laurels His 
success will not only be of immediate advantage but it 
will enhance for the future the prestige of our arms 
The Turks have now had ample proof that, if thev 
trouble the Emperor, he is one who has both soldiers 
and generals wherewith to chastise their insolence 
This check has made the Turks on the borders a o-reat 
deal quieter. >^'-^^^ 

While Ali was still encamped before Szigeth, our 
soldiers took by escalade the city of Gran, with the 
adjoining citadel of the same name. They carried off 
some plunder, and also the inhabitants, who were 



240 TURKISH LETTERS. 

mostly women and children. The messenger who 
brought the news to the Pasha came trembling, with 
dismay painted on his face. ' Is all well .'' ' quoth the 
Pasha. ' Why are you thus cast down ? ' Thereon 
the man told him of the great disaster the Turks had 
sustained in the loss of Gran. ' Disaster ! loss ! ' 
cried the Pasha. ' Well, I know what disaster and loss 
mean ; I can tell you it was a disastrous loss when 
they made me what I am.' The Pasha was a eunuch, 
and he intended by this coarse joke on himself to divert 
the attention of the people round him from the loss 
which he was unable to repair. 

In Croatia, too, and in the neighbouring regions, 
various forays went on upon both sides, and people, 
whether Turks or Christians, who were too venture- 
some and careless, were punished for their presumption. 
I will tell you an instance, and as it gave me reason 
to rejoice, I trust you also will find the story agreeable. 
True, it occurred a little before the affair of Szigeth 
which I have just related ; but as it is a letter I am 
writing, I feel that the order of time need not be very 
strictly regarded. From those districts news was brought 
to Roostem of a feat performed by a certain Turk, for 
whom he professed great admiration and spoke of as 
his kinsman. He had swept down on a large party of 
Christians, who were celebrating a wedding without 
the slightest notion that there were any Turks in the 
neighbourhood. You may imagine what an unwelcome 
guest he was. His troops scattered the people, killing 
several, and carrying off many more as prisoners ; 
amongst the latter was the unfortunate brideo-room, 
with her who was about to become his wife. Roostem 
was greatly elated, and kept boring everybody with his 
boasts of the wonderful success of his kinsman's raid. 
So far, the story is one on which we must exchange 



JiAWS AND SKIRMISHES. 241 



condolences rather than congratulations. Well, it is 
the fortune of war. But retribution was close at hand 
to changre Roostem's merriment into tears and lamen- 
tation. There came not long afterwards from the 
same districts in hot haste a Dalmatian horseman with 
news of a great defeat. (The man belonged to a class 
whom the Turks call Belli, i.e. madmen, on account 
ot their blind and reckless daring.) He said that 
several Sanjak-beys and other commanders of garrisons 
had united their forces and invaded the enemy's terri- 
tory ; they had scoured the country for many miles, 
and had earned off much booty, but at last, advancino- 
too far they fell in with a Christian force, composed 
ot musketeers on horseback, by whom they were put 
to Hight and utterly routed with the loss of many men 
among whom was that Achilles, Roostem's kinsman, of 
whom he had just been speaking in such high terms 
Roostem was overwhelmed on hearing the disastrous 
intelligence, and burst into tears. Richly did he de- 
serve this misfortune in retribution for his former 
boastfulness. 

Now listen to the rest of the story, which affords 
still greater reason for rejoicing. When the Dalmatian 
horseman, who brought the news of the defeat I 
mentioned, was immediately afterwards asked by the 
Pashas in the Divan, ' How many of you then were 
engaged?' he replied, 'Above 2,500.' The Pashas 
proceeded, ' Pray, what was the number of the Chris 
tians r to which he said, 'he thought they were not 
above 500 that he could see, though there might have 
been some more lying in ambush, and for his part 
he thought there were, but he could take his oath 
that there was not more than that number of Chris- 
tians actually engaged.' Thereupon the Pashas got 
angry with him for not being more ashamed at the 

\TC\1 J 



VOL. I. 



242 TURKISH LETTERS. 

defeat of a regular army of Mussulmans by a handful of 
Christians. They thought it foul scorn that picked 
warriors, who had been deemed worthy of being num- 
bered amongst Solyman's household and of eating his 
bread, should thus disgrace themselves. The mes- 
senger most unblushingly replied, ' You do not take a 
right view of the matter. Did you not hear that we 
were overcome by the force of fire-arms ? it was fire 
that routed us, not the enemy's valour. Far different, 
by heaven, would have been the result of the fight, 
had they met us like brave men. They called fire to 
their aid ; by the violence of fire we were conquered ; 
we are not ashamed ; it is one of the elements and the 
fiercest of them, and what mortal man has such strength 
as to be able to resist the fury of the elements ? ' ^ 
When he delivered this speech bombastically with 
Dalmatian magniloquence, the bystanders, notwith- 
standing the melancholy tidings, could with difficulty 
check their laughter. 

This news cheered me not a little, coming as it did 
when I was still depressed by the recollection of the 
previous disaster. I could thereby learn that the 
Turks are much afraid of carbines and pistols, such as 
are used on horseback. The same, I hear, is the case 
with the Persians, on which account some one advised 
Roostem, when he was setting out with the Sultan 
on a campaign against them, to raise from his house- 
hold servants a troop of 200 horse and arm them with 
fire-arms, as they would cause much alarm and do 

' The Turks could hardly object to the use of ' villainous saltpetre ' 
as by its aid Solyman's father, Selim I., had been enabled to crush the 
Mamelukes. See Creasy, History of the Ottomati Turks, chap, viii 
After the battle ' Koort Bey poured forth a brilliant eulogy on the valour 
of the Mamelukes, and spoke with contempt and abhorrence of guns 
which, he said, killed so cowardly, and so like an assassin.' 



ROOSTEAPS DRAGOONS. 243 



great execution in the ranks of the enemj^ Roostem, 
in accordance with this advice, raised a troop of dra- 
goons, furnished them with fire-arms, and had them 
drilled. But they had not completed half the journey 
when their guns began to get out of order. Every 
day some essential part of their weapons was lost or 
broken, and it was not often that armourers could be 
found capable of repairing them. So, a large part of 
the fire-arms having been rendered unserviceable, the 
men took a dislike to the weapon ; and this prejudice 
was mcreased by the dirt which its use entailed, the 
Turks being a very cleanly people ; for the dragoons 
had their hands and clothes begrimed with gunpowder, 
and moreover presented such a sorry appearance, with 
their ugly boxes and pouches hanging about them, 
that their comrades laughed at them, and called them 
apothecaries. So, since with this equipment they 
pleased neither themselves nor others, they gathered 
round Roostem, and showing him their broken and 
useless fire-arms, asked what advantage he hoped to 
gain from them when they met the enemy, and de- 
manded that he should relieve them of them, and give 
them their old arms again. Roostem, after considering 
their request carefully, thought there was no reason for 
refusing to comply with it, and so they got leave to 
resume their bows and arrows. 

The fighting on the Hungarian borders, which I 
mentioned above, reminds me to tell you what the 
Turks think of the practice of duelling, which we are 
accustomed to regard as the greatest proof of personal 
courage. There was in a part of Hungary which ad- 
joins our frontier, a Sanjak-bey, famous for bodily 
strength, named Arslan Bey. None drew the bow 
with greater strength, no one's sword pierced deeper 
or was more formidable to the foe. Veli Bey the 



R 2 



244 TURKISH LETTERS. 

governor of the next Sanjak/ who coveted the same 
reputation, put himself forward as his rival. From 
this rivalry, and possibly other differences, there arose 
a deadly feud between the Sanjak-beys ; they laid 
plots against one another, and bloodshed was the 
consequence. Whether it was for this or some other 
reason that Veli Bey was summoned to Constantinople 
is unknown to me ; at any rate he came. The Pashas 
in the Divan, after putting many other questions to him, 
finally wished to hear about his feud with Arslan Bey. 
(Arslan in Turkish means Lion.) Then he narrated 
at great length the whole story of their quarrel, and to 
improve his case, he told them how it ended in Arslan 
Bey's lying in wait for him and wounding him ; there 
would have been no need, he continued, for Arslan 
Bey to act thus, had he chosen to show himself worthy 
of his name ; since for his part he had never declined 
a fight with him, and indeed had many times chal- 
lenged him to a duel. The Pashas,- in indignation at 
this speech, exclaimed, ' Did you dare to challenge your 
comrade to a duel ? Were there no Christians for you 
to fight ? Both of you live on the bread of our Em- 
peror, but yet you were preparing to engage in mortal 
combat. By what law or precedent can you justify 
such conduct ? Did you not know that whichever of 
you fell the Emperor would lose a soldier by his 
death ? ' With these words they ordered him to be 
taken to prison, where he was made to do penance for 
several months, and then having with great difficulty 
obtained his discharge, was at last released with his 
reputation much impaired. Among us many who have 
never seen a public enemy are considered to be famous 
and distinguished characters, because they have drawn 

' Arslan was Sanjak-bey of Stuhlweissenburg and Veli of Hatwan. 
^ Compare Brantome, Discours sur Duels, vi. p. 151. 



THE MINGRELIANS. 245 

their swords on a fellow- citizen or fellow-soldier. 
What can you do when the sense of right is so per- 
verted that vices usurp the place of virtues, and what 
deserves punishment is accounted a glory and an 
honour ? 

As you are eager for information of every kind, I 
must not deprive you of an account of the arrival here 
of the king of the Colchians.^ He reigns on the banks 
of the Phasis at the corner of the, Euxine, not far from 
Mount Caucasus. His name is Dadian. He is a 
man of dignified appearance and commanding person, 
but at heart they say he is a mere savage. He was 
attended by a large but ragged retinue in poor and 
threadbare attire. 

The Colchians are now called Mingrelians by the 

' Of the nations mentioned in this passage the Mingrehans live along 
the coast from the Turkish frontier to Sukhum Kaleh ; the Iberians corre- 
spond to the modern Imeritians, while the ancient Albanians lived in 
what is now the part of Georgia that borders on the Caspian and in 
Daghestan, the country of the Lesghians. According to Mr. Bryce 
(Transcaucasia and Ararat, p. 99) the modern Mingrelians correspond to 
Busbecq's description of their a:ncestors. ' They are the ne'er-do-wells 
of the Caucasian family. All their neighboiirs, however contemptible a 
Western may think them, have a bad word and a kick for the still more 
contemptible Mingrelian. To believe them, he is lazy, sensual, treacherous 
and stupid, a liar arid a thief. Lazy the Mingrehan ' certairily is, but in 
other respects I doubt if he is worse than his neighbours ; and he 
hves in so damp and warm a climate that violent exercise must be dis- 
agreeable.' According to Malte Brun, ' the Prince of Mingrelia assumes 
the title of Dadian or Master of the Sea, though he possesses not even a 
fishing-boat : he generally moves about with his suite from place to 
place, and his camp is the scene of licentiousness as well as poverty.' 
The Caspian Gates mentioned in the text are probably the Dariel Pass. 
' There were three passes, between which boundless confusion has arisen: 
first, the Dariel, sometimes called the Caucasian, sometimes the Caspian, 
sometimes the Iberian Gates ; second, the pass between the mountains 
and the sea near Derbend, where is the wall of Gog and Magog, called 
sometimes the Caucasian, sometimes the Caspian, sometimes the Albanian 
Gates ; third, a paSs^ somev/here on the south coast of the Caspian, 
which was really visited and fortified by Alexander the Great.'— Bryce, 
TfatiscaUcasia and Ararat, p. 76. 



^46 TURKISH LETTERS. 



Italians. They are one of the tribes settled between 
the Caspian Gates, called by the Turks ' Demit Capi,' 
1. e., ' Iron Gates,' and the Black and Caspian Seas, 
which are now called Georgians, either from the sect 
ot Christianity to which they belong, or because it is 
their ancient name, which last seems the more probable 
theory, among whom are also included the Albanians 
and Iberians (Imeritians). 

The reason of Dadian's coming is uncertain. Some 
suspect that he has been summoned by the Turks • for 
when the Turks are at war with the Persians, ' the 
Mingrehans and the other tribes of that region would 
If friendly, be able to render important assistance. But 
the general and more probable version of the story is 
that he has come to ask for the assistance of some 
galleys to help him against his neighbours the Imeri- 
tians ; and that he is prepared to pay tribute to the 
Sultan in return for this favour. His father was killed 
by the Imeritians, with whom the Mingrelians have an 
ancient feud of long standing. 

There is, however, an amusing story that, when on 
a certain occasion a conference to effect a union and a 
reconciliation had been arranged, and the Mingrelians 
on the one part and the Imeritians on the other had 
assembled in large numbers, they had a match to see 
who should have the honour of drinking the most ; in 
which the Mingrelians were worsted, and fell dead 
drunk under the table. But the Imeritians behaved 
dishonourably, and putting the doughty Dadian, while 
he was sound asleep and snoring, into a carria<.e 
carried him off as if they had taken him prisoner'in 
fair fight, and shut him up in a lofty tower. To aveno-e 
this wrong and to recover their king, the Mingrelians 
collected men to the number of 30,000, commanded 
by the wife of the captive prince, a woman of hiah 



DAD/AN' S EXPLOJT. 247 



spirit, who could ride a horse and wield a sword. The 
chiefs of the army were equipped in cumbrous coats of 
mail, and carried swords and lances tipped with iron. 
There was also, you will be surprised to hear, a body 
of musketeers. The rest were without any armour, 
and fought with arrows, or stakes hardened in the fire, 
and great clubs of wood, and rode barebacked, nor 
was there any attempt at order among them. When 
this raw and undisciplined army drew near to the 
place where the king was confined, the enemy fired 
some cannon, at which they took to their heels, and 
ran away a full mile. Then they again plucked up 
courage and returned to the attack : the cannons were 
again discharged ; off went the Mingrelians once more, 
and this scene was repeated over and over again. 
Dadian, however, seeing help near at hand, cut the 
sheets of his bed into strips, and letting himself down 
at night through a window, reached his troops in 
safety; an exploit, which has made him famous in 
those parts. 

All the country of the Mingrelians is exceedingly 
rich in every kind of grain, except wheat and barley. 
The crops receive but little attention, and it is sup- 
posed that if a little care were taken, wheat and barley 
might also be grown. The people are incorrigibly 
lazy. Panic ^ is sown in a slovenly way, but it grows 
with the greatest luxuriance, and produces such a crop 
that one harvest is sufficient for two years' consump- 
tion. They have got accustomed to this grain, which 
they eat in large quantities, and do not wish for any 
better kind of corr>. From vines planted at the foot 
of thp tallegt trees, they make a great deal of fair 

^ 'A plant of the millet kind, differing from it in the disposition of the 
flower and seeds, which grow in a dose thick spike. It is sown in parts 
of Europe as corn for the sustenance of the inhabitants.'— Johnson's 
Dictionary. 



''48 TURKISH LETTERS. 



Wine. These vines climb among the branches of the 
trees to which they are trained, and last for many 
years. Abundance of wax and honey may be obtained 
from the wild bees that work in the forests by anyone 
who will take the trouble to look for their hives. The 
woods also supply plenty of game, indeed the whole 
country is full of pheasants and partridges. The very 
pumpkins show the fertility of the soil, as they not only 
are of a delicious Havour, but are often quite three feet 



Ion 



'g' 



They have very little money. Few among them are 
acquainted with silver coins, and still fewer with gold; 
hardly anyone possesses them. I am not sure that 
they ought not to be called fortunate on this account. 
The absence of money is the absence of that which is 
the chief incentive to crime ; and yet, for my part, I 
have my doubts whether many of our friends at home 
would care for this blessing, which renders it impos- 
sible for anyone to grow rich ! Yet silver is to some 
extent esteemed by them, for when any comes into the 
country in the course of trade— as is necessarily the 
case—they dedicate it to their churches, and it is 
recast into crosses, chalices, or other church ornaments. 
All these the king, when he thinks proper, melts 
down, and converts the bullion to his own uses In 
dealing with each other, barter is their only form of 
trade. Everyone brings to market the commodity of 
which he has plenty, to exchange it for what he is in 
need of. Thus they do not feci the want of money 
smce Its place is supplied by barter ; nay, even the 
kings tribute is paid to him in the produce of the soil 
He receives an abundant supply of what is needful in 
the way of food and clothing. He has enough to eat 
enough to drink, enough to clothe himself with and 
also has the means of maintaining his household and 



MODERN MEDEAS. 249 



rewarding his supporters. He has an inexhaustible 
store of provisions, both from tithes and other royal- 
ties and from the presents which he is continually 
receiving ; yet he is no miser, and gives as freely and 
readily as he takes. His palace resembles a public 
storehouse, being crammed with supplies of every kind. 
From these stores rations are issued to all his subjects 
who need them. Any who are in want, or have fallen 
into poverty through the failure of their crops, are fed 
from the royal granary. 

It is the custom for merchants on landing to make 
some present to the king ; its value is unimportant, as 
he will accept whatever is offered, and they are then 
invited to a banquet. There is a vast hall with 
stables at each end, in which the king's table is laid. 
It is a very long one ; he sits at the head himself, 
and the others at a little distance from him. The 
table is loaded with game and other dishep, and wine 
is liberally supplied ; indeed, the hardest drinkers are 
considered the most welcome guests. In the same 
banqueting-hall the queen likewise dines with her train 
of women, but at a separate table. I am afraid I 
cannot say much for the manners of the ladies. They 
behave quite as badly as the men, drinking, gesticu- 
lating, tittering, nodding, and winking, to such an extent 
as to make it plain that any of them would play the 
Medea if a Jason ^ appeared. After the banquet the 
king with his guests goes off to the chase. 

In this country you may see in the forests parties 
of the common people lying under the shade of 
spreading trees, and keeping holiday with wine and 
dances and songs. They stretch strings to a long pole, 
and strike them with a small stick in regular time. 
To the accompaniment of these rude harps they sing 

' Medea was a Colchian, i.e. Mingrelian. 



250 TURKISH LETTERS. 



their love-songs and ballads in praise of heroes, among 
whom, if the stories that are told are true, the name 
of Roland frequently occurs.^ How it was conveyed 
there I cannot conjecture, unless it came across the sea 
with Godfrey de Bouillon. About this Roland they 
tell many marvellous tales, even more absurd than 
those of our own romances. 

Where life is so easy and food so plentiful, morality 
suffers. A respectable woman is not often to be met 
with. A man who wishes to amuse his visitor and 
make his stay agreeable, introduces him to his wife or 
sister, and does not trouble himself as to how far their 
intimacy may go. On the contrary, they think that 
if their wives prove attractive it is a compliment to 
themselves. Unmarried women are allowed the same 
liberties, and behave just as badly as their married 
sisters. Cases are often pointed out of girls of ten 
years old who have got babies. When you express 
your surprise, and refuse to believe that such diminu- 
tive creatures can be mothers, they produce a baby not 
much bigger than a large frog, which is the more 
surprising, as the men and women are generally tall, 
and remarkable for the symmetry of their limbs. But 
they are so completely devoid of refinement and good 
manners that, among other customs, they think it a 
compliment to make a curious noise in the throat, 
something like a hiccough. 

For one thing they certainly have talents, and that 

^ M. G^nin, in the introduction to his edition of the Song of Roland, 
the most famous hero of the Carlovingian epic cycle, speaking of the 
wide-spread popularity of the legend, quotes this passage. He also 
mentions that Bellonus, or Belon (see note, page 138), states that the 
Turks preserved at Broussa the sword of Roland, who, they declared, was 
one of their countrymen. This illustrates what Busbecq in his first 
letter says of the way in which the Turks identified St. George with one 
of their own legendary heroes. Godfrey de Bouillon was one of the 
leaders of the first Crusade, and the first Christian King of Jerusalem. 



THE NOBLE SCIENCE OF THIEVING. 251 



IS Stealing. Amongst them this art is held in high 
esteem, and a successful pilferer is a great man. He 
who is ignorant of the noble science of thieving is 
despised as a mere blockhead ; indeed, they hardly 
thmk him worthy of life. So strong is this feeling, 
that if a man has a brother or son who cannot steal, 
he considers him a hopeless case and a disgrace to 
his family, and gives him away or sells him for a trifle 
to foreign traders to carry him to some distant land. 
An Italian merchant, who had been in that country, 
told me that one of their priests robbed him of his 
knife in church. He perceived the theft, but pre- 
tended not to do so, and, to show the priest he had 
been discovered, made him a present of the sheath 
as well, that he might have something to put the 
■ knife in ! 

When they enter a church they do not care much 
lor the images of the Virgin, St. Peter, St. Paul or 
other saints, but look about for a picture of St. George 
on horseback. Before this they prostrate themselves 
in adoration, and then kiss it all over, not omitting 
even the horse's shoes. They say that St. George 
was a brave soldier of great renown, who fouo-ht 
several battles with the Evil Spirit on equal terms, and 
always beat him, or at the worst was able to hold his 
own. 

_ I will now tell you something that will surprise you 
Kings in the East expect presents from their visitors 
Uadian brought Solyman a dish hollowed out of a ruby 
ot such brilliancy that it would make the road by nicrht 
as clear as if it were noonday. You will say, ' I*do 
not believe it.' For the matter of that, I do not either 
and what is more, I do not ask you to believe it. I 
only tell you there are plenty who do. More knowing 
people say it is a paten of garnet, and that it was 



252 TURKISH LETTERS. 



stolen from a son of the King of Persia, who was 
wrecked on that coast as he was trying to escape to 
Constantinople. He Hkewise brought twenty white 
falcons, or hawks, which are said to be found in great 
numbers in Mingrelia. So much for my news about 
the Mingrelians and their manners. 

You ask about my pursuits, and the general routine 
of my life, and whether I ever go out of my house. Well, I 
am not in the habit of going out, unless when despatches 
are received from the Emperor for me to present to the 
Sultan, or instructions come to remonstrate about the 
raids made and mischief done by the Turkish garrisons, 
and this happens only two or three times a year. Were 
I to express a wish to take a ride occasionally through 
the city with my keeper, it would in all probability be 
granted ; but I do not care to have this made a favoui* 
of, as I want to make them think that mv rieorous 
confinement is no punishment to me. Besides, what 
pleasure would it give me to ride about with Turks all 
round me, making their remarks or perhaps venting 
their abuse on me ? The country and the fields are 
what I enjoy, and not a town ; least of all one that is 
tumbling to pieces, and in which, with the exception 
of its magnificent site, no relic of its original splendour 
is left. The former rival of Rome is now crushed 
beneath the yoke of the most cruel slavery. Who 
could see this proud city and not pity her fall, while 
musing over the changes and chances of this fleeting 
world .? Besides, who knows how soon her fate may 
be ours .-* 

I keep at home, where I hold converse with my 
old friends, my books. They are at once my com- 
panions and my solace. For the sake of my health I 
have built a tennis-court, where I play before dinner. 
After dinner I practise the Turkish bow, in the use of 



TURKISH ARCHER Y. 



253 



which weapon people here are marvellously expert 
From the eighth, or even the seventh, j^ar of their aae 
they begm to shoot at a mark, and practise archery ten 
or twelve years. This constant exercise strengthens 
the muscles of their arms, and gives them such skill 
that they can hit the smallest marks with their arrows 
The bows they use are much stronger than ours, and 
being shorter, are also much more handy; the^ are 
made not of a single piece of wood, but of the sinews 
and horns of oxen fastened together with a quantky 

draw the string of the very stiffest of them to his ear 
Without training, however, the strongest man could do 
nothing with a Turkish bow. Indeed, if a coin be set 
between the string and the bow close to the notch 
none but an adept could pull the string so far as would 

intaTtl^t ;rnl^i:ran ifthT^ '^ ^'^^^ ^^^ ^^- 
exposed ,J. they cho^" T^:^:^^ 
are taught, you may see them shooting^ith so sure 
an airn_ that they surround the white ^on the L't 
which IS generally smaller than a thaler, with fivfor 
SIX arrows, so that every arrow touches tl e margin o 

sLtnt o" '°" T ^^^ '' Th^y -'dom 
use a range of more than th rtv feet On t-K« ^u u 

of therigh, h,„d .hey wear bon'e rings o, ,i".t 
bowstnng I.es when they draw ft, and the a ow is 
kept ,n ,.s place by holding the left thumb T„ an 
fpnght pos,t,o„ and joining i, ,o the forefinge so 

Ur. u ij • kashas and men with larcre 

households exercise their servants in this sort of prS 
fee at home, the more skilful being told off to act as 



?S4 TURKISH LETTERS. 



teachers. Some of them at the feast of Easter ^ — for 
the Turks have an Easter (the feast of Bairam) hke 
ourselves — assemble in the great plain beyond Pera, 
where, squatting on the ground in a line, with their 
legs crossed in the Turkish manner like tailors, they 
try who can shoot the furthest. I must mention that 
the contest, after the usual Turkish fashion, is prefaced 
by prayer. Great order and silence prevail through- 
out, however large the number of spectators. On 
these occasions they use special bows and arrows ; the 
former are very short and stiff, and cannot be bent except 
by a man who has had a great deal of practice. An 
embroidered handkerchief, such as we use for wiping 
our faces, is the winner's prize. The chief reward, 
however, is the reputation which the successful archer 
acquires. The range they attain with their arrows is 
almost incredible. The point reached by the arrow of 
the longest shot in the year is marked by a stone. 
Many such stones set up in former days are still stand- 
ing, several paces beyond those which are now erected. 
These they firmly believe are the marks of their 
ancestors' shots, to whose strength and skill, by their 
own admission, they cannot aspire. Moreover, in 
various streets and piazzas of Constantinople there 
are ranges of this sort, at which there assemble not 
merely boys and young men, but also those of more 
advanced age. A target-keeper is appointed, who has 
the charge of keeping it in order and watering the butt 
every day, which otherwise would get so dry that the 
blunt arrows which they use in practice would not 
stick in it. It is also the keeper's business to stand by 
the target and draw out the arrows, and throw them 
back to the shooters after cleaning them. In return 
everyone gives him a fixed fee, which forms his salary. 

' See note, page 229. 



INVENTIONS ADOPTED BY THE TUltKS. 



25s 



The front of the target is like a small door, from which 
perhaps, ongjnated a proverb the Greeks liave ; when a 
man has wholly missed the mark, they say ■ he s shoot^ 

;."s!d?h;"' : ^r- ''°' ■ *""^ "-c-ks ;;:':;■; 

them. I am well aware, of course, that the i,,se of the 
bow ,s very ancent among the Turks; but that does 
not seem to me any reason why they should not 
have gone on using the sort of target and but. l^ch 
they found m the Greek cities when they took hem 

nlZTTr f^ *-'".,"- ^>-»» /eater read" 
ness than the Turks to avail themselves of the useful 
mvent,ons of foreigners, as is proved by their Lploy- 

™ ttdT/chri:- ir^Tr' '"' ™"v*-"'"g^ 

lnH,„ J '-nnstians. They cannot, however, be 

Ick? be'ca '"' ;r "^\Pr""?' - '» establish ptlbli! 

Aet ;ac ed bo "'' "u*'' *^ ^'criptures-that is, 
tnerr sacred books—would no longer be sc-Mur,, if 
they were /,™/.^. ,„d that, if ^ubh'c dock w're 
"itroduced, the authority of their muezzins and he r 
ancent ntes would be thereby impaired 

Even m the case of other nations, it is their habit 

he^ylrsoT^"' r ^"^'™' "^^S^^- T-his princ p le 
tney carry so far as almost to infringe the precents of 

he,r own religion. Remember, in saying'^tS T,m 

speakmg o the practice of the ordinary Turk As a^ 

exan, , f „„,, everyone knows thjt they have no 

the s Ightest sympathy with Christian worshtp bu 

notw,.hstand.ng, as the Greek priests have a custom 

crmty""t?oX:r ---"t-" ^^^ 
.-^p.urtt-:grtL;;*Tt:rSrr 



256 TURKISH LETTERS. 



and inquire if the waters have yet been blessed. If 
they say no, they put off their voyage ; if they are 
answered in the affirmative, they embark and set sail. 

It was also a custom among the Greeks that the 
cave in Lemnos from which is extracted the earth they 
call ' goat's seal,' ^ should not be opened except on 
August 6, the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord. 
This custom the Turks observe to this very day ; and 
they think it proper that a service should even now be 
performed there by a priest of the Greek Church in 
the same manner as it used to be, while they remain 
at a distance as spectators of the sacred rites in which 
they cannot join. But if one should ask why they do 
so, they reply that there exist many customs ordained 
of yore, the advantage of which is proved by long 
experience^ though the reasons for them are unknown. 
The ancients, they say, knew more and saw further 
than they do, and what they had approved of ought 
not to be abolished. They prefer to keep such 
customs rather than run the risk of changing them. 
Some carry this way of thinking so far, that I have 
known instances of Turks who had their children 
secretly baptised ; their notion being that there must 
be some advantage in this rite, or otherwise it would 
never have been instituted. 

But, by the way, I must not fail, when speaking of 
Turkish drill, to mention a very ancient manoeuvre 
which has been handed down from the time of the 

' The chief production cf Lemnos was a red earth called Terra 
Lemnia, or sigillata, which was employed by the ancient physicians as a 
remedy for wounds and the bites of serpents, and which is still much 
valued by the Turks and Greeks for its supposed medicinal virtues. It 
is dug out of a hill, made into small balls, and stamped with a seal which 
contains Arabic characters. Mattioli, in his letter to Ouacquelben (see 
note I, page 415), asks him for information about this earth, and requests 
him to procure some for him. See also page 416. 



BUSBECQS V/S/TOXS. 



'SI 



Parthians ; namely, for the cavalry to pretend to fly 
and to shoot down their tnnvary enemies when they 

which they acquire the art of rapidly executing this 
manceuvre. They put a brass hall "on the op o a 

past ,t at full speed, they then turn suddenly, and bend 

a;te iifirrfh^r^^^^^^^^^^^ 
r„^?:atttpec::it^^"^""™"^"-'--- 

But ,t ,s time for me to return to our lodrine- or 
my keeper w,ll be angry with me ! Whatever^t L , 
have left unoccupied by the exercises I men,io,^ed is 
spent ,n readmg, or talking with the ci.ize^sTpera 
who are Genoese by origin, or with other fiends 
but for th,s the cavasses' leave is necess-,rv Tl ' 
temper is indeed somewhat uncerLin b"' hey «cT 
s.onally have lucid intervals, during which tl^e,^ 
more reasonable. Accordingly, wh n tty aTe'jr: 
good humour, Ragusans. Florentines. Ven'etLs nd 
sometimes also Greeks, and men of other nations ^ome 
m numbers e.ther to pay a visit or on some business 
H.ther flock also men from yet more distant hnds 
whose conversation has great attractions for me A 
few months ago there came an amber merchant ff 
Dantzic. who had bought no the whnl» , [ 

amb^r A I Whole SUpp v of 

ainber. As a great quantity of this article is sent . 

their rooms, cabinets, and shrines with it h" "' 

me a barrel of the beer thev call iT, i- / ^^'''^' 

VOL, I. ^ ^ Juppenbier (spruce^ 



258 TURKISH LETTERS. 



beer), which is certainly capital stuff. But I had a 
hearty laugh at my Greek and Italian guests, who, 
having never met with such a beverage, could not 
find a name for it. At last, as they heard from me 
that it was good for one's health, they thought it a 
kind of medicine, and called it Sirup ; and as they kept 
on asking for ' a little more of the same mixture,' by 
repeated tastings, like the lady in Terence,^ they finally 
finished my barrel at one sitting. 

My cavasses are changed from time to time, and 
sometimes I have the good fortune to have men who 
are so considerate that they not only would not object 
to my going out, were I to desire it, but they actually 
invite me to take a ride. But, as I said, I make a 
point of refusing to leave my quarters to prevent their 
thinking that they have it in their power either to 
gratify or to annoy me. I excuse myself on the plea, 
that by such a long stay in the house I have grown a 
piece of the building, so that I can't be torn away 
without risk of its falling ! I tell them I will go out 
once for all, when permission shall be granted me to 
return home ! I am glad my household are allowed 
their liberty, as it may help them to bear their long 
exile more patiendy. In this, however, there is again 
the inconvenience that quarrels often occur when they 
meet with drunken Turks, especially if they are unat- 
tended by Janissaries ; but even if they are at hand, 
they cannot always prevent blows being exchanged. 
All this causes me much annoyance, as I am obliged 
to answer the accusations which are continually trumped 
up against my people, though I must say that my 
cavasses in most cases save me the trouble, they are so 
particular about keeping the gates shut. Of this we 
had lately an instance, which I must tell you. There 

' The reference is to Teience, HeautontimoriDnenos, 3. i. 48. 



BARRING OUT 

259 



had been sent to me by the Emperor one Philip Baldi 
an Italian, a man of about sixty, who had travelled too 

f 1,' 11 f ^tlT °f '''^' ^-e. and had consequently 
fallen ,11.^ When the apothecary brought the clyster 
the doctor had ordered, the cavasse refused him ad- 
mittance, and would not allow him to take it to the 
patient, treating him most uncivilly. 

This cavasse had for a long while behaved kindlv 
and courteously towards us, but he suddenly turned 

his stick. As was much annoyed by his conduct, I 
determined to show him he was wasting his trouble in 
trying to intimidate us, as if we were a set of children 
I ordered one of my servants to keep the door bolted' 
and to undo it for no one except by my orders The 
cavasse came as usual in the morning to open the 
gates, but, as the key proved useless, he perceived they 
were bolted inside, and called out to my servant, whom 
he could see through the chinks between the folding- 
doors, to let him in. My servant refused, and the 
cavasse thereupon got angry, and began to abuse 
him and swear at him. My servant replied, ' Bluster 
to your hearts content; but neither you, nor any of 
your people shall get in here. Why'should I open 
the door for you any more than you do for us ? As 
you keep us shut in, we will keep you shut out " You 
may lock the door on the outside as tio-ht as voi^ 
P ease ; I will take care to bolt it on the insid .' Th n 

orderTrf^: ^^'^^^t '^"^ ^^^^e Ambassadors 

in the s'table % - ' T^ "' ^^^^^ P"^ ^y horse 

m the stable. < I wont. ' At any rate give me hay 

with his Turkish escort bv .nn.. ir ''''^^}^^^> ^^^ been taken prisoner 
and that he had ^d "hrZ i wLThTL^s '^°\'' 1° ^^^^'-"' 



S 2 



26o TURKISH LETTERS. 



and fodder for him.' ' There is plenty to be had in 
the neighbourhood, if you are willing to pay for it' 
I used to invite this cavasse to dine with me, or send 
him something from my table ; this day, however, his 
luck was changed, and he was obliged to stay before 
the gate without breaking his fast, and tie up his 
horse to the plane-tree which stands opposite. The 
Pashas and most of the court officials pass this way 
on their return home from the palace, and when they 
saw the cavasse's horse, which they knew well enough 
by its trappings, munching hay at the foot of the 
plane-tree, they asked him why he kept it there in- 
stead of in the stable, as he usually did 1 He then 
told them the whole story ; viz., that because he had 
shut us in, we had shut him out, and not only himself 
but his horse, and that he got no food and his steed 
no forage. The story reached the ears of the other 
Pashas, and caused much laughter. From that time 
they could no longer doubt how utterly useless it was 
to lock me up, and with what contempt I treated such 
petty means of annoyance. Shortly afterwards the 
cavasse was removed, and the rigour of our confine- 
ment was somewhat relaxed. 

This occurrence was noticed by Roostem a few 
days afterwards in a way that deserves to be recorded. 
A man of reverend years and great reputation for 
sanctity was paying him a visit, and asked him in the 
course of their conversation, why, when the discord 
between the Sultan's sons was so apparent, and serious 
disturbances were expected to arise from it, nay were 
imminent, he did not make a regular peace with the 
Emperor, and so relieve Solyman of all anxiety in that 
quarter ? Roostem replied, there was nothing he 
desired better, but how could he do it ? The demands 
I made he could not concede ; and, on the other hand, 



AN AMBASSADOR'S DILEMMA. 261 

I refused to accept what he offered. ' Nor does he 
yield,' said he, ' to compulsion. Have I not tried 
everything to make him agree to my terms ? I have 
now for several years been keeping him immured, 
and annoying him in many ways, and treating him 
roughly. But what good am I doing ? He is proof 
against everything. We do our best to keep him 
in the closest confinement, but not content with 
our locking him up, he actually bolts himself in. Thus 
all my labour is in vain ; any other man, I believe, 
sooner than endure these annoyances would ere now 
have gone over to our religion ; but he cares nothing 
for them.' This was related to me by people who 
were present at the conversation. 

The Turks are a suspicious nation, and have got 
it into their heads, that the Ambassadors of Christian 
princes have different instructions, to be produced or 
suppressed according to circumstances, and that they 
first attempt to get the most favourable terms they can, 
and, if they fail, gradually come down and accede to 
harder conditions. Consequently they think it is ne- 
cessary to intimidate them, to flaunt war in their faces, 
to keep them shut up like prisoners, and to torment 
them in every way, as the best means of breaking their 
spirit and making them sooner produce the set of 
instructions, which specify the minimum they are em- 
powered to accept. 

Some think that this notion was much encouraged 
by the conduct of a Venetian Ambassador, when there 
was a dispute between the Venetians and Turks about 
restoring Napoli di Romania to the Sultan. 1 The 

In 1540, Luigi Badoer was sent as ambassador to treat for peace on 
the basis of the status quo ante belhim, and the payment of 30,000 ducats, 
but was forbidden in any case to cede Malvasia and Napoli di Romania. 
Such were the instructions of the Senate, but the Council of Ten gave 
him m addition secret instructions, empowering him to surrender these 



2^2 TURKISH LETTERS. 



instructions he had received from the Venetian Senate 
directed him to do his best to make peace without 
giving up NapoH, but, if he failed, at last to agree to 
surrender the town, if he found war to be the only 
alternative. Now it happened that these instructions 
were betrayed to the Turks by certain citizens of 
Venice. The Ambassador, in total ignorance of this, 
mtended to open negotiations by suggesting easier 
terms, and thus to sound the minds of the Pashas. 
When they pressed him to disclose all his instructions, 
he declared that his powers went no further ; till at 
last the Pashas grew furious, and told him to take care 
what he was about, as their master was not accustomed 
to be trifled with, and also that he knew right well 
what his instructions were. Then they repeated accu- 
rately in detail the orders he had received from the 
authorities of Venice, and told him, that ' If he did not 
at once produce t}iem all, he would find himself in no 
small danger as a liar and impostor, while inevitable 
destruction would await the republic he represented, 
if his deceit should provoke Solyman's wrath beyond 
all appeasing, and cause him to destroy them with fire 
and sword.' They warned him that ' he had not much 
time for deliberation ; if he produced all his instruc- 
tions, well and good ; but if he persevered in his 
attempt to trifle with them, it would be too late after- 
wards to talk of peace and express his regret' They 
concluded by saying, that ' Solyman was no man's sup- 
pliant; since by God's blessing he had the power to 
compel.' The Ambassador knew not what to do, and 

places, if he found it impossible to obtain a peace on easier terms. The 
brothers Cavezza, of whom one was secretary to the Senate, and the 
other to the Council of Ten, betrayed the secret, probably through a 
French diplomatist to the Porte. The consequences are described in the 
text See Daru, Histoire de Venise, book xxvi. p. 82, Von Hammer 
book XX.X., and Charriere, Negoclations de la France dans k Levant i 548* 



AN EMBLEMATIC PRESENT. 263 

thinking it useless to attempt to conceal what was per- 
fectly well known, made a clean breast of it, and 
frankly confessed that what they stated as to his 
instructions was correct. This misadventure, how- 
ever, made him very unpopular at home. From that 
time the Turks seem to have become much more 
suspicious, thinking it impolitic to enter into negotia- 
tions with an ambassador until his spirit is broken 
by long confinement. It was on this account that 
Veltwick,^ the ambassador of the Emperor Charles, 
was detained by them for eighteen months, and my 
colleagues for more than three years, and then dis- 
missed without having accomplished anything. On 
me they have been putting pressure for a long time, 
as you know, and as yet I can see no prospect of my 
release. 

But when Baldi, whom I was speaking of, arrived, 
the age of the messenger made them suspect that he 
brought fresh instructions, allowing us to accept harder 
conditions of peace, and these they were afraid of my 
misrepresenting on account of my knowledge of their 
domestic troubles. They thought it therefore politic 
to treat me with greater rigour, as the best means of 
making me produce forthwith the real instructions I 
had last received. For the same reason Roostem tried 
to intimidate me with threats of war, which he hinted 
at by the following pleasantry. What does he do but 
send me a very large pumpkin of the kind we call 
' Anguries,' and the Germans ' Wasser Blutzer ' (water- 
melons). Those grown at Constantinople are of ex- 
cellent flavour, and have red seeds inside ; they 
are called Rhodian melons because they come from 
Rhodes. They are good for allaying thirst when the 
weather is very hot. A great round one was sent me 

* See page 79. 



''^^ TURKISH LETTERS. 



by Roostem tlirough my Interpreter, one very hot day, 
with the following message : ' He hoped I should like 
a fruit which suited the season ; there was no better 
antidote for the heat ; but he wished me also to know 
that at Buda and Belgrade they had great store of such 
truit, and indeed some larger specimens of it,' by which 
he meant cannon balls. I sent back word that I was 
much obliged for his present and should enjoy it, but 
that I was not surprised at what he said about Buda 
and Belgrade as there were at Vienna plenty of speci- 
mens of the fruit quite as big as the one he sent'me 

T. ^ I ^"''^'^' ^^'^"'^ ^ ^^^hed Roostem to 
understand that I had noticed the point of his jest 

Now It IS time I should relate the story of Bajazet 
about which you especially beg for information.^ 
Doubtless you remember the circumstances under 
which Bajazet parted from his father a few years ago 
He was pardoned on condition that he should not again 
make any movement against his brother or excite fresh 
disturbances but should remain at peace and on friendly 

Z7rt , ' "' " ^''°'^^'" °"^^^ t« do.^ ' Let him ' 
said the Sultan, ' remember the pledges he has given 
me, nor further disquiet my declining years. Another 

may btTathereJ7 '''.f \'' '" ''' '"'"^"" "'^'^^ ^^^^^ Bajazet's ruin 
riala^A^is Jnh.'^TlT T' °' °"°"^^" ^"' ^'^^ ^^^ ^een secretary 

to be murdered in such a manner as to make it anoear tt?^ ^^'''' 
responsible for the crime, and thus widen the breach Sf 'T ""^l 
his father. It is the evidence of the secre"a v of ht h TT ^'"' ^""^ 
that Von Hammer prefers to Busbec^ Tma^htf h^^^^^^^ 
formation than our writer • the Question ;= ^^ ,, ^ ™°''^ '"' 

truth , See Von Hamme;, book xxxi- ' ^^" '^ ^^ "'^'>- '« ^P^"^ '^e 



See page 189. 



BAJAZETS CONSPIRACY. 265 



time I will not let him go unpunished.' These warn- 
ings influenced Bajazet for a time, but only as long as 
his mother survived ; indeed, he placed but little confi- 
dence on his brother's afifection or his father's feelings 
towards him, and relied entirely on the love his mother 
bore him, and being anxious not to alienate her, he 
remained quiet during her lifetime. But, when she died 
two years afterwards, thinking that his case was des- 
perate, and that he was no longer bound by any tie of 
filial duty, he began to resume his former designs, and 
to prosecute his old quarrel against his brother with 
more bitterness than ever. At one time he plotted 
secretly against his life, at another used open violence, 
and often sent his troops to make forays into his 
brother's government, which bordered on his own, and 
if he could catch any of his servants he sentenced them 
to heavy punishments, intending thereby to insult their 
master ; in short, as he could not strike at his brother's 
life, he left nothing undone which he thought would 
impair his prestige. 

At Constantinople he had some devoted partisans, 
and through them he tried to tamper with the Sultan's 
bodyguard by every means in his power, and on some 
occasions he even ventured to cross over to Constan- 
tinople himself,! concealing himself there among his 
accomplices and the men of his party. 

The progress of the conspiracy was no secret to 
Solyman, who, besides his other channels of informa- 
tion, received accurate intelligence from Selim, who 
wrote despatches from time to time, warning his father 
to be on his guard against attack. ' The Sultan was 
mistaken,' said Selim, ' if he thought that the impi- 
ous designs which Bajazet was now rehearsing were 
not ultimately aimed at his own person. Bajazet cared 
" This was a very serious step. See page 187. 



2^^ TURKISH LETTERS. 



neither for God nor man, provided he could reach the 
throne. His father was as great a barrier as his 
brother to the accompHshment of his ambitious hopes. 
Attacks on himself were aimed at Solyman's Hfe, a 
crime which Bajazet had planned long ago, and had 
lately been trying to carry into execution. He begged 
the Sultan to take care he did not fall a victim to these 
plots, and find himself a prisoner before news of his 
danger could be received or help sent to him. As 
to the personal wrongs he received from Bajazet, he 
could afford to disregard them, but he was troubled at 
the greatness of his father's peril.' 

By such insinuations fresh fuel was continually 
added to Solyman's wrath against Bajazet. Accord- 
ingly he wrote letters reminding him of his duty, of the 
clemency with which he had treated him, and of his 
promises to himself, and bade him remember what 
he had said on a former occasion, viz., that he would 
not always find pardon, that he ought to turn over a 
new leaf, and not persist in provoking his brother and 
annoying his father.^ He added that he had but a 
short span of life left himself, and when he was dead 
Providence would determine what their several lots 
should be. In the meantime they should keep quiet, 
if they had any regard for the peace of their father 
and their country. But such arguments were all 
thrown away upon Bajazet, who had made up his mind 
to hazard everything rather than take the other alter- 
native, and tamely wait till the time came for him to 
be butchered like a sheep, which would most assuredly 
be his fate, if Selim ascended the throne. 

He replied, however, to his father's commands in 
becoming terms, but his deeds did not correspond to 

' See page i88. 



BAJAZET ORDERED TO A MAST A. 267 

his words, nor did he swerve in the least from the hne 
of conduct he had resolved on. 

When Solyman saw this, he felt that other measures 
were necessary, and that he must not allow his sons to 
remain so near each other. Accordingly he issued 
orders that before a certain day each should leave his 
government (Bajazet was Governor of Kutaiah, Selim 
of Magnesia), and that Bajazet should go to Amasia 
and Selim to Koniah. No fault could be found with 
Selim, and his favour with his father was unimpaired, 
but to prevent Bajazet from being hurried into rebel- 
lion, Solyman wished to make it appear that they were 
both being treated alike. In giving these orders he 
observed that the further apart they were in actual 
distance the closer they would be in spirit. Vicinity, 
he added, was often prejudicial to union, many faults 
being committed on both sides by mischievous officers 
and servants, the effect of which was to cause great 
irritation on the part of their masters. Let both of 
them be obedient to his commands. If either should 
hesitate to obey, he would expose himself to a charge 
of treason. 

Selim made no delay, inasmuch as he knew that 
these orders were given chiefly in his interest. Ba- 
jazet kept making excuses, and halted after proceeding 
a short distance. He complained that he had been 
given the government of Amasia, that town of evil 
omen, which was still reeking with his brother's blood, ^ 
and said that he would be contented with any other 
government whatever, in place of that, in which the 
miserable end of his kinsfolk would ever be forcing 
itself on his eyes, and wounding his heart with its sad 
recollections. He asked that he might at least be 
permitted to pass the winter where he was, or at 

' See page 116. 



268 TURKISH LETTERS. 



any rate in the place which his brother had left. To 
these remonstrances Solyman paid no attention ; and 
Sehm had already proceeded some days' march with 
the troops, which his father had given him as an escort 
to protect him against any attack on the part of his 
brother, while Bajazet was still delaying and hesitating, 
when he suddenly turned and retraced his steps, and 
then making a circuit appeared in his brother's rear, 
moving on Ghemlik, a Bithynian town, on the Asiatic 
coast opposite Constantinople. For this step he had 
the sanction of his father, who did not like Bajazet's 
procrastination, for both father and son were alarmed 
at the thought of what might be the consequence both 
to the empire and themselves, if Bajazet should win 
over the Imperial guards and march on Ghemlik or 
even on Constantinople. As they were both threat- 
ened, the safest course seemed to be for Selim to take 
up such a position as would enable them to support 
each other. Selim had not as yet sufficient strength to 
make him certain of defeating his brother, who was 
now ready for any desperate step. 

When Bajazet saw Selim in his rear, he felt that 
the only result of his own delay had been to ensure his 
brother's succession to the throne, whenever his father 
should be carried off, an event which might be expected 
any day, as the Sultan's health, which was generally 
bad, was at that time worse than usual. Accordingly 
he sent letters to his father, in which he accused his 
brother ; he told him that Selim could have given no 
stronger proof of his undutiful and disloyal intentions 
than his march to Ghemlik ; to which no other object 
could be assigned than an attempt on the throne, as it 
was a place from which he would have but a short 
passage to Constantinople, if he received the neivs 
he wished for, informing him of his father's death. 



BAJAZETS REMONSTRANCES. 269 

But if his father's life should be prolonged, and the 
fulfilment of his wishes thus deferred, he would not 
hesitate to employ his tools for the attainment of his 
object, and would ascend the throne over his father's 
murdered body. In spite of all this he could not help 
seeing that Selim, villain as he was, was his father's 
darling, and was treated as if he were a pattern son ; 
while he on the other hand, though he had always 
been a good son, and had never dreamt of such 
undutiful conduct, nay, more, had always strictly ob- 
served every indication of his father's wishes, was 
nevertheless scorned and rejected. All that he re- 
quested was permission to decline a government, the 
traditions of which boded ill to its possessor. Next he 
had recourse to entreaties, and again implored his father 
to consent to his being appointed to a different govern- 
ment, whether it were the one his brother had left, or 
any other, provided it had not the dark history of 
Amasia. He concluded by saying he would wait for 
an answer to his petition at the place where he had 
halted, that he might not have further to return should 
his wish be granted, but if he should not obtain what 
he asked, he would then go wherever his father mio-ht 
order. 

The complaints Bajazet made about Amasia were 
not altogether unreasonable, for the Turks are in the 
habit of forecasting important matters from trifling 
incidents. But this was not the view that Solyman 
took, for he knew what value to attach to his son's 
bemoanings, and was convinced that his object was to 
obtain a situation more convenient for makino- a 
revolution, Amasia being too far from Constantinople. 
Thus Bajazet, pleading one excuse after another for 
delay, put off the hour for obeying his father's wishes 
as long as he could, and went on increasing his forces 



2 70 TURKISH LETTERS. 



by enlisting recruits, arming them, and raising money 
— in short, he made every preparation for defending 
himself and attacking his brother. These preparations 
were regarded by Solyman as directed against himself, 
but, nevertheless, he passed them over for the most 
part in silence. The cautious old man did not wish to 
render Bajazet desperate and thus drive him into open 
rebellion. He was well aware that the eyes of the 
world were fixed on the quarrel between his sons, and 
he was therefore anxious that these troubles should be 
left to the influence of time, and be allowed to die out as 
quietly as possible. He therefore replied to Bajazet in 
gentle language, saying, ' He could make no change 
about the government, his decision on that point was 
final. They ought both to obey his commands and 
repair to their respective posts. As to the future he 
bade them be of good hope, as he would take care 
that everything should be so regulated as to prevent 
either of them having any ground for just complaints.' 
Pertau, the fourth of the Vizierial Pashas, was 
selected to convey these commands to Bajazet, and to 
keep up an appearance of impartiality, Mehemet, the 
third of the Vizierial Pashas, was despatched to Selim 
with the same orders. Both were instructed not to 
leave the Princes before they reached their respective 
governments, as Solyman prudently intended to attach 
these important ofificers to his sons in order that they 
might be kept in mind of their duties. This Selim 
was ready to allow, but Bajazet refused, for, as his 
intention was to bring about a general revolution, he 
thought there could be no greater obstacle to ' his 
designs than to have one of his father's counsellors 
ever at his side to criticise his words and actions. 
He therefore addressed Pertau courteously, and having 
given him such presents as he could, compelled him to 



PREPARATIONS FOR WAR. 271 



return, in spite of his remonstrances, saying, that he 
wished to employ him as his defender and advocate 
with his father, as he had no one else to plead for him. 
He told him that he would not prove an ungrateful 
or a discreditable client. Further, he bade him tell 
his father that he would always regard his commands 
as law, if Selim would let him, but that he could not 
bear any longer the outrages of his brother, and his 
attacks upon his life. 

The dismissal of Pertau in this manner made 
Solyman sure of his son's intentions. Though Bajazet, 
to prevent the mission to him appearing to have been 
wholly ineffectual, kept pretending that he was on his 
way to Amasia, Solyman was not deceived, and con- 
tinued to make his preparations for war with un- 
dunmished activity. He ordered the Beyler-bey of 
Greece, although he was suffering from an attack of 
gout, to hurry with his cavalry to Selim's assistance 
and on Mehemet Pasha's return from his mission he 
despatched him into Asia with the most trusty of the 
Imperial guard on the same service. He also made 
his own preparations, and wished to make it appear 
that he was about to take the field in person, but the 
Imperial guard gathered to their standards with hesita 
tion and reluctance, loathing a war between brothers 
as an accursed thing. ' Against whom were they to 
draw their swords .? ' they asked ; 'Was it not against 
the heir of the empire himself 1 ' 'Surely,' they argued 
_ some alternative might be found instead of pluLn^ 
into war ; it could not be necessary to compel them to 
dip their hands in the blood of their comrades, and to 
incur the guilt of slaughtering their fellow-soldiers 
As to Bajazet's attempts, they were, in their opinion' 
justified by the emergency.' 

When these speeches reached Solyman's ears he 



272 TURKISH LETTERS. 

submitted the following questions to his Mufti, who, 
as you doubtless remember, is the chief authority 
among the Turks in religious matters, and like the 
oak of Dodona^ is consulted in cases of difficulty. 
' First, how ought he to treat a man who in his own 
lifetime raised men and money, attacked and captured 
towns, and troubled the peace of the empire ? Secondly, 
what was his opinion of those who joined his standard, 
and assisted him in such an enterprise ? Finally, what 
he thought of those who refused to take up arms 
against him, and justified his acts ? ' The Mufti 
replied, ' That such a man and his partisans, in his 
judgment, merited the severest punishment ; and that 
those who refused to bear arms against him were 
wicked men, who failed to support their religion, and 
therefore deserved to be branded as infamous.' This 
reply was made public, and transmitted through the 
chief of the cavasses to Bajazet. 

A few days afterwards there returned to Constanti- 
nople a cavasse, who had been sent to Selim by 
Solyman, and had been captured on the way by 
Bajazet. By him he sent word to his father, that he 
had violated no obligation demanded by filial duty, he 
had never taken up arms against him, and was ready 
to obey his commands in everything. The quarrel 
was one between his brother and himself, and life and 
death depended on the issue of the struggle, as either 

' The allusion is to the ancient and famous oracle of Zeus at Dodona 
in Epirus, which is mentioned in the Iliad and the Odyssey. The god, 
according to one legend, was said to dwell in an ancient oak tree, and to 
give oracles by the rustlings of the branches. These ' talking oaks ' are 
aliuded to by ^schylus in the Prometheus Vinctiis, and by Sophocles in 
the Trachinia. Busbecq's Latin, 'A quo in rebus dubiis responsa 
petuntur,' is suggested by Virgil's lines — 

' Hinc Italee gentes omnisque Oinotria tellus 
In dubiis responsa petunt.' 

^neid, vii. 85. 



SELIM MARCHES ON KONTAH. 273 



he must fall by his brother's sword or his brother by 
his. That both should survive was an impossibility. 
He had determined to bring matters to a conclusion, 
one way or the other, in his father's lifetime ; there- 
fore he called on Solyman not to interfere in their con- 
test, and to remain neutral. But if, as was rumoured, 
he should cross the sea to go to Selim's assistance! 
he warned him not to hope that he would find it an 
easy task to get him into his power, as he had secured 
for himself a refuge in case of defeat. The moment 
Solyman set foot on the soil of Asia, he would lay the 
country waste with fire and sword as mercilessly as 
Tamerlane. Such a message caused Solyman no small 
anxiety. At the same time news arrived that the town 
of Akschehr, which was governed by Selim's son as 
Sanjak-bey, had been taken by Bajazet, and, after a 
large sum of money had been exacted, had been 
ruthlessly sacked. 

But when Selim, who had been afraid of his brother's 
lying in wait for him on the road, heard that he was 
on his way to Amasia, and had already reached Angora 
his suspicions were relieved, and he rapidly marched 
on ^ Koniah,! which was held for him by a garrison 
which had been thrown into it. For not the least of 
the anxieties which racked Solyman's mind was lest 
Bajazet should seize Koniah, and so make his' way 
into Syria, and thence invade Egypt, a province which 
was open to attack and of doubtful loyalty, and which 
having not yet forgotten the ancient empire of the 
Circassians or Mamelukes, was eager for a revolution.^ 

' Koniah was the ancient Iconium. 

^ The Arabic word Memlook or Mameluke means a slave. The first 
cahphs formed their body-guard of slaves, and in the decadence of the 
cahphate these slaves, hke the Roman pr^torians, played a principal part 
in the numerous revolutions that occurred. It was in Egypt however 
that the Mamelukes attained their highest power. They wfre Sovere'S 

VOL. I. T 



2n TURKISH LETTERS. 

Should Bajazet once establish himself there it would 
not be an easy task to dislodge him, especially as the 
neighbouring Arabs would readily adopt any cause 
which held out prospects of booty. From Egypt too. 
if he were hard pressed, all the coasts of Christendom 
were within easy reach. For this reason Solyman 
took the utmost pains to bar the road which might be 
expected to be Bajazet's last resource, orders having 
already been given to several of the governors in 
Asia Minor to hold themselves in readiness to take 
the field when Selim should give the signal. At the 
time of which I am now speaking, Selim had called 
them out and had encamped before the walls of Koniah, 
anxiously watching his brother's movements. He de- 
termined to wait there for his father's reinforcements, 
and not by a premature engagement to expose his life 
to the hazard of a battle. 

Bajazet, on the other hand, was keenly alive to the 
magnitude of the enterprise he had undertaken. He 
had hired a body of Kurdish horsemen, who are, 

of that country for more than 250 years, from the fall of the dynasty of 
Eyoub to the Ottoman conquest, and even after that event were the real 
rulers of Egypt till their massacre in the present century by Mehemet Ali. 
They were composed of three bodies, the Mamelukes, properly so-called, 
who were of pure Circassian blood ; the Djelbans, who were mostly com- 
posed of Abyssinian slaves, and the Korsans, an assembly of mercenaries 
of all nations. They were governed by twenty-four beys, over whom was 
a Sultan. Their dominion extended over Egypt and Syria with the holy 
cities of Mecca and Medina and the adjacent parts of Arabia. Selim I., 
Solyman's father, after his victorious campaign against Shah Ismael 
attacked the Mamelukes, defeated and killed their Sultan, Kausson 
Ghawri, near Aleppo (Aug. 24, 1516), and, marching into Egypt, defeated 
Touman Bey, the new Sultan, at Ridania (January 22nd), and added 
Syria and Egypt to his empire. When in Egypt, he induced the last of 
the Fatimite caliphs, who had been a puppet in the hands of the Mame- 
lukes, to transfer that dignity to himself and his successors. It is in 
virtue of this transaction that the present Sultan and his predecessors 
since the time of Selim have claimed to be the head of the Mahommedan 
faith throughout the world. See Von Hammer, book xxiv. 



SELIM'S APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER. 



275 



probably, descendants of the ancient Gordia^ans.i They 
have a great reputation for valour, and Bajazet felt 
confident that their assistance would ensure the success 
of his arms. The day they arrived at his camp they 
went through a sham fight on horseback, which was so 
hke reality that several of them were slain, and more 
were wounded. He pitched his camp in the open 
country, near Angora, so as to have at his command 
the ample resources of that important town. In the 
citadel he placed his concubines with their children 
i^rom the wealthier of the merchants he raised a loan 
on the terms of repaying them with interest if Provi- 
dence should crown his hopes with success. From 
the same source he obtained the means of equipping 
aiid arming his forces. He had, after the fashion of 
lurkish nobles, a numerous retinue of servants • these 
were reinforced by the Kurds I mentioned, and by men 
whose interests had been advanced by his mother his 
sister, or Roostem. To them were added many of the 
surviving retainers of Mustapha and Achmet, brave 
and experienced soldiers, who burned to risk their 
lives in avenging the cruel murders of their masters 
Nor was there wanting a motley following of men, who 
were discontented with their actual condition, and were 
eager for a change. The motive of some was com- 
passion for the unfortunate Bajazet, whose only re- 
maining hope lay in an appeal to arms. They were 
attracted to the young man by his looks, which stronaly 
resembled his father's ; while, on the other hand Seilm 
Tvas totally unlike the Sultan, and inherited the face 
and manner of his unpopular mother. In gait he was 

; The Kurds are descended from the Carduchi or Gordia^ans of the 
ancients (See Xenophon, ^«.W., iv.) They have gradualfyadvaned 
from the. ongmal mountain homes into the plains fn the souJh eas of 
Armen,a and the north of Mesopotamia. They are a warhke race Id 
much addicted to brigandage. ' 



T 2 



276 TURKISH LETTERS. 

pompous, in person he was corpulent, his cheeks were 
unnaturally red and bloated ; amongst the soldiers he 
was nick-named ' The stalled ox.' He lived a lazy 
life, at the same time a sluggard and a sot. In the 
smaller courtesies of life he was singularly ungracious ; 
he never did a kindness and he never gained a friend. 
He did not wish, he said, to win the favour of the 
people at the expense of his father's feelings. The 
only man that loved him was his father. Everyone 
else hated him, and none so much as those whose 
prospects depended on the accession of a generous and 
warlike Sultan. The soldiers had been wont to call 
Bajazet Softi, which means a studious and quiet person, 
but when they saw him take up arms and prepare to 
fiorht to the uttermost for his own and his children's 
preservation, they respected his courage and admired 
his conduct. 'Why had the father,' they murmured, 
' disowned a son who was the living image of himself ? 
Why had he preferred to him that corpulent drone, 
who showed not a trace of his father's character ? To 
take up arms was no crime, when nothing else would 
serve the turn. 'Twas nothing worse than what Selim, 
their grandfather, had done.^ That precedent would 
cover everything, as he had not only taken up arms 
against his brother, but also had been compelled by 
the force of circumstances to hasten his father's end. 
Dreadful as the crime was to which he had been 
driven, still, by it he had won the empire for his son 
and grandsons. But if Solyman stood rightfully pos- 
sessed of an empire, which had been won by such 
means, why should his son be debarred from adopting 
the same course ? Why should that be so heavily 
punished in his case which Heaven itself had sanctioned 
in his grandfather's ? Nay, the conduct of Selim was 

' See note, page io8. 



BAJAZErS SPEECH TO HIS ARMY. 277 

far worse than that of his grandson Bajazet ; the 
latter had taken up arms, but not to hurt his father ; 
he had no desire for his death ; he would not harm 
even his brother, if he would but let him live, and cease 
from injuring him. It had ever been held lawful to 
repel force by force. What fault could be found with a 
man for endeavouring to save himself from ruin when 
it stared him in the face ? ' 

Such were the sentiments that made men daily flock 
to the standard of Bajazet. When his forces had well 
nigh attained the size of a regular army, Bajazet felt 
that he must forthwith attack his brother, and stake 
life and empire on the issue of the contest. That he 
might be defeated he was well aware, but even in 
defeat he felt that honour might be gained. Accord- 
ingly, he marched directly against Selim. His object 
was to effect a passage into Syria ; if this should prove 
successful, the rest, he was confident, would be easy. 
Selim, having, with the assistance of his father, com- 
pleted his armaments, awaited his brother under the 
walls of Koniah. He had large forces, and a numerous 
staff of experienced officers, who had been sent by the 
Sultan, and his position was strengthened by well- 
placed batteries of artillery. 

By all this Bajazet was not one whit dismayed ; when 
he came in sight of the enemy he addressed a few 
words of encouragement to his men, telling them to 
fight bravely. ' This,' he declared, ' was the hour they 
had longed for, this was the opportunity for them to 
prove their valour. Courage on that day should secure 
a fortune at his hands. It rested with them to win or 
forfeit everything. Everyone who was discontented 
with his lot had now an opening for exchanging his 
former poverty for wealth and honour. They might 
expect from him, if they conquered, dignities, riches, 



278 TURKISH LETTERS. 



promotion, and all the rewards that valiant men deserve. 
However extravagant their hopes, let them win this 
one victory, and those hopes should be satisfied. They 
had abundant means of gaining it in their gallant hearts 
and stout arms. Before them stood only his brother's 
following, cowards more debased than their cowardly 
leader; it was through the ranks of these poltroons 
his men must cleave their way. As for his father's 
troops, though in body they stood with his brother, in 
heart they were on his side. If Selim were out of the 
way, his safety was assured, and their fortunes were 
made ; let them go and avenge themselves on the com- 
mon enemy. Let them not fear,' he repeated, 'the 
multitude of their foe. Victory was won not by numbers 
but by valour. Heaven was on the side, not of the 
larger, but the braver army. If they bore in mind how 
cruel and how eager for their blood was the enemy 
they were to encounter, victory would not be hard to 
gain. Last of all ' said he, ' I wish you to regard not 
my words but my deeds. Take my word for it, the 
day is yours, if you fight for my life, as you see me 
fighting for your profit.' 

Having addressed his troops in such terms, he 
boldly ordered them to attack the enemy. He led the 
charge in person, and on that day proved himself alike 
a gallant soldier and a skilful leader, winning, by the 
courage he displayed, as much admiration from foes as 
from friends. The battle was fierce and bloody ; for 
a long time neither party could gain any decisive 
advantage ; at last victory inclined to the side which 
was stronger in arms, stronger in right, and stronger 
in generalship. Selim's troops also received super- 
natural assistance, if one may believe the Turkish 
story, for they aver that a great blast came from the 
shrine of one of their ancient heroes, which stood hard 



BAJAZET'S DEFEAT AT K ONI AH. 279 

by/ and carried the dust into the faces of Bajazet's 
soldiers, darkening the atmosphere and bHnding their 
eyes. After great losses on both sides, Bajazet was 
obliged to give the signal for retreat, but he retired 
slowly and without disorder, as if he had won a victory 
instead of having sustained a defeat. Selim made no 
attempt to pursue. He was perfectly satisfied with 
the success he had gained in repelling his brother's 
troops, and remained in his position as a quiet spectator 
of the retreating enemy. '"^ 

Bajazet had now committed an act of direct dis- 
obedience to his father's orders, he had given the rein 
to his own inclinations, and he had been unsuccessful. 
He abandoned his project of marching into Syria, and 
set out for Amasia in good earnest. 

About this time Solyman crossed into Asia, having, 
it is asserted, received news of the result of the battle 
in a marvellously short space of time. The Pashas 
held it to be impolitic for the Sultan to cross until 
intelligence of Bajazet's defeat should be received, but 
at the same time were of opinion, that when news of 
it arrived no time ought to be lost, lest Bajazet's mis- 
fortunes should provoke his secret partisans to declare 
themselves, and thus greater troubles ensue. They 
argued that nothing would be more effectual than the 
report of his crossing for cowing Bajazet and terrify- 
ing his friends. The victory, they urged, should be 
improved, and no opportunity be given to the prince 
of rallying from the blow he had received, lest he 
should follow in the steps of Selim, Solyman's father, 



I t ■ 



■ The most remarkable building in Koniah is the tomb of a saint, 
highly renowned throughout Turkey, called Haznet Mevlana, the founder 
of the Mevlevi Dervishes. His sepulchre, which is the object of a Mus- 
sulman pilgrimage, is surmounted by a dome, standing upon a cylindrical 
tower of a bright green colour.'— Leake, Asia Minor, p. 50. 
^ May 29, 1559, was the date of the battle. 



28o TURKISH LETTERS. 



who became more formidable after defeat than ever 
he was before, and owed his final victory, in no small 
measure, to his previous failure. 

The Pashas were perfectly correct in their view of 
the situation. For though Bajazet had been defeated, 
his conduct in the field marvellously increased his popu- 
larity and reputation. People spoke of how he had 
ventured with a handful of men to encounter the 
superior forces of his brother, supported as they were 
by all the resources of the Sultan. The strength of 
his brother's position, and his formidable array of 
artillery, had failed to daunt him, while in this, his first 
field, his conduct would not have shamed a veteran 
general. Though fortune had not favoured him, yet 
he was the hero of the battle. Selim might go to his 
father, and vaunt his triumph, but what then ? True, 
he had wou it, but Bajazet had deserved it. To what- 
ever cause Selim's victory was due, it was certainly 
not to his valour that he was indebted for his success. 

Such was the common talk, the effect of which was 
to increase Bajazet's popularity, and at the same time 
to make his father more anxious than ever. His 
hatred was inflamed, and he began to long for his 
destruction. His determination remained unaltered. 
Selim was the elder, and had ever been a dutiful and 
obedient son, and he and no one else should be his 
heir ; while Bajazet, who had been a disobedient son 
and had endeavoured to supplant him on the throne, 
was the object of his aversion. He was well aware 
that the peril of the situation was increased by the 
reputation Bajazet had gained, and the open support 
which he himself had given to Selim. For these 
reasons he had crossed the sea : his object was to give 
moral support to Selim by his presence in Asia, but he 
had no intention of marching up the country. He 



SOLYMAN CROSSES TO SCUTARI. 281 



could not trust his troops, and if he ventured to lead 
them to the scene of action, they might at any moment 
declare for Bajazet. 

He left Constantinople June 5, 1559, on which 
occasion, in spite of my cavasse, I managed to be 
among the spectators. But why should I not tell you 
of my two skirmishes after the fashion of the Miles 
Gloriosus of Plautus ? At any rate, I have nothing 
better to do, unless worry counts for work. Under 
such circumstances letter-writing is a relief 

When it became generally known that the Sultan 
was about to cross the sea, and the day was fixed, I 
mtimated to the cavasse my wish to see the Sultan's 
departure. It was his habit to take charge of the keys 
every evening, so. when the time came, I bade him 
attend me early in the morning and let me out. To 
this he readily agreed. My Janissaries and inter- 
preters, by my orders, hired for me a room command- 
ing a view of the street by which the Sultan was to 
pass. When the day came I was awake before 
daybreak, ^ and waited for the cavasse to open the 
gates. Time passed and he did not come. So I 
availed myself of the services of the Janissaries who 
slept at my gate and the interpreters who were waiting 
to obtain admittance, and despatched messenger after 
messenger to fetch the cavasse. I had, by the way, 
to give my orders through the chinks of the crazy old 
gates. The cavasse kept putting me off with ex- 
cuses, at one time saying he was just coming, and 
at another that he had business which hindered him. 
Meanwhile it was getting late, and we knew, by the 
salutes fired by the Janissaries, that the Sultan had 
mounted his steed. Hereupon I lost patience, for I 
saw that I was being humbugged. Even the Janissaries 
on guard were sorry for my disappointment, and 



2 82 TURKISH LETTERS. 

thought that I had been treated scurvily ; so they told 
me that, if my people would push from the inside while 
they pulled from the outside, it would be possible to 
burst the locks of the gate, which was old and weak. 
I approved of the plan ; my people pushed with a will, 
and the gate gave way. Out we rushed, and made 
for the house where I had hired a room. The cavasse 
had intended to disappoint me, not that he was a bad 
sort of fellow, but when he had informed the Pashas 
of my wishes they had refused consent, not liking that 
a Christian should be among the spectators on such 
an occasion. They did not wish me to see their 
Sovereign on his march against his son and at the head 
of a mere handful of troops, so they recommended 
him to put me off by courteous promises till the Sultan 
had embarked, and then to invent some excuse, but 
the trick recoiled on its author. 

When we arrived at the house we found it barred 
and bolted, so that we had as much difficulty in getting 
in, as we had just had in getting out ! When no one 
answered our knocks, the Janissaries came to me again, 
and promised, if I would undertake the responsibility, 
either to break open the doors or climb in through a 
window and let us in. I told them not to break in, but 
did not object to their entering by a window. In less 
time than I can tell it they were through the window, 
and had unbarred the doors. When I went upstairs, I 
found the house full of Jews, in fact, a regular syna- 
gogue. At first they were dumbfoundered, and could 
not make out how I had passed through bolts and bars! 
When the matter was explained, a well-dressed elderly 
lady, who talked Spanish, came up and took me roundly 
to task for breaking into the house. I rejoined that I 
was the aggrieved party, and told her that the land- 
lady ought to have kept her bargain, and not tried to 



THE PROCESSION OF CAVALRY. 283 



fool me in this way. Well, she would have none of 
my excuses, and I had no time to waste on words. 

I was accommodated with a window at the back of 
the house, commanding a view of the street by which 
the Sultan was to pass. From this I had the pleasure 
of seeing- the magnificent column which was marching 
out. The Ghourebas and Ouloufedgis rode in double, 
and the Silihdars and Spahis in single file. The cavalry 
of the Imperial guard consists of these four regiments, 
each of which forms a distinct body, and has sepa- 
rate quarters.' They are believed to amount to about 
6,000 men, more or less. Besides these, I saw a large 
force, consisting of the household slaves belonging to 
the Sultan himself, the Pashas, and the other court dig- 
nitaries. The spectacle presented by a Turkish horse- 
man is indeed magnificent.^ His high-bred steed 
generally comes from Cappadocia or Syria, and its 
trappings and saddle sparkle with gold and jewels in 
silver settings. The rider himself is resplendent in 
a dress of cloth of gold or silver, or else of silk or 
velvet. The very lowest of them is clothed in scarlet, 

^ See note 2, page 153. 

= Compare the account of the Turkish horses and equipments seen 
by Evelyn in 1684 : — 

' It was judged by the -spectators, among whom was the King, Prince 
9f Denmark, Duke of York, and several of the Court, that there were 
never seene any horses in these parts to be compar'd with them. Add to 
all this, the furniture, consisting of embroidery on the saddle, houseings 
quiver, bow, arrows, scymetar, sword, mace or battle-axe a la Turcisg 
the Bashaw's velvet mantle furred with the most perfect ermine I ever 
beheld ; all which, yron-worke in common furniuire, being here of silver 
curiously wrought and double-gilt, to an incredible value. Such and so 
extraordinary was the embrodery, that I never saw anything approching 
It. The reins and headstall were of crimson silk, cover'd with chaines o^f 
silver gilt. There was also a Turkish royal standard of an horse's taile 
together with all sorts of other caparisons belonging to a general's horse' 
by which one may estimate how gallantly and magnificently those infidell 
appeare in the field, for nothing could be seene more glorious.'— Evelyn 
Diary, p. 461. ' 



284 TURKISH LETTERS. 

violet, or blue robes of the finest cloth. Right and 
left hang two handsome cases, one of which holds his 
bow, and the other is full of painted arrows. Both 
of these cases are curiously wrought, and come from 
Babylon, as does also the targe, which is fitted to the 
left arm, and is proof only against arrows or the blows 
of a mace or sword. In the right hand, unless he 
prefers to keep it disengaged, is a light spear, which 
is generally painted green. Round his waist is girt a 
jewelled scimitar, while a mace of steel hangs from his 
saddle-bow. ' What are so many weapons for 1 ' you 
will ask. I reply for your information, that he is 
trained by long practice to use them all. You will 
ask again, ' How can a man use both bow and 
spear .-* will he seize the bow after he has cast or 
broken his spear ? ' Not so ; he keeps the spear in 
his grasp as long as he can, but when circumstances 
require that it should be exchanged for the bow, he 
thrusts the spear, which is light and handy, between 
the saddle and his thigh, so that the point sticks out 
behind, and by the pressure of his knee keeps it in this 
position for any length of time he chooses. But when 
he has need of the spear, he puts the bow into its 
case, or slings it on his left arm across his shield. It 
is not, however, my object to explain at length their 
skill in arms, which is the result of long service and 
constant drilling. The covering they wear on the 
head is made of the whitest and lightest cotton-cloth, 
in the middle of which rises a fluted peak of fine purple 
silk. It is a favourite fashion to ornament this head- 
dress with black plumes. 

When the cavalry had ridden past, they were fol- 
lowed by a long procession of Janissaries,^ but few of 
whom carried any arms except their regular weapon, 
' See note, page 87. 



THE JANISSARIES. 285 



the musket. They were dressed in uniforms of almost 
the same shape and colour, so that you might recognise 
them to be the slaves, and as it were the household, of the 
same master. Among them no extraordinary or starding 
dress was to be seen, and nothing slashed or pierced) 
They say their clothes wear out quite fast enough 
without their tearing them themselves. There is only 
one thing in which they are extravagant, viz., plumes, 
head-dresses, &c., and the veterans who formed the 
rear guard were specially distinguished by ornaments 
of this kind. The plumes which they insert in their 
frontlets might well be mistaken for a walking forest. 
Then followed on horseback their captains and colonels, 
distinguished by the badges of their rank. Last of alk 
rode their Aga by himself Then succeeded the chief 
dignitaries of the Court, and among them the Pashas, 
and then the royal body-guard, consisting of infantry' 
who wore a special uniform and carried bows ready 
strung, all of them being archers. Next came the 
Sultan's grooms leading a number of fine horses with 
handsome trappings for their master's use. He was 
mounted himself on a noble steed ; his look was stern, 
and there was a frown on his brow ; it was easy to see 
that his anger had been aroused. Behind him came 
three pages, one of whom carried a flask of water, 
another a cloak, and the third a box. These were 
followed by some eunuchs of the bed- chamber, and the 
procession was closed by a squadron of horse about 
two hundred strong. 

Having had a capital view of the whole spectacle, 
which I thoroughly enjoyed, my only anxiety was to 
appease my hostess. For I heard that the lady, 
who had addressed me in Spanish at my entrance, was 

' In Busbecq's time it was the fashion in Europe to wear clothes with 
slashes or eyelet-holes. Compare page 155. 



286 TURKISH LETTERS. 

on very intimate terms with Roostem's wife, and I 
was afraid that she might tell tales about me in his 
family, and create an impression that I had not be- 
haved as I ought. I invited my hostess to an inter- 
view, and reminded her of her breach of contract in 
bolting the door in my face, when she had for a 
fixed sum agreed to leave it open ; but told her that, 
however little she might have deserved it, I intended 
to keep my part of the engagement, though she had 
neglected hers, and not only to pay her in full, but 
to give her a little extra douceur as well. I had 
promised seven pieces of gold, and she should receive 
ten, to prevent her regretting my having forced my 
way into her house. When she saw her hand filled 
with more gold than she had hoped for, she suddenly 
altered her tone, and overwhelmed me with thanks 
and civilities, while the rest of her Hebrew friends 
followed suit. The lady also, whom I mentioned as 
being intimate with Roostem's family, echoing the 
praises of my hostess, thanked me profusely in her 
name. Some Cretan wine and sweetmeats were then 
produced for my refreshment. These I declined, and 
hurried home as fast I could, followed by the good 
wishes of the party, planning as I went a fresh battle 
with my cavasse, to whom I should have to answer for 
having broken open the doors in his absence. 

I found him sitting disconsolately in the vestibule, 
and he at once assailed me with a long complaint, say- 
ing, I ought not to have gone out without his consent 
or have broken the doors. He declared that it was a 
breach of the law of nations, &c. I answered shortly 
that had he chosen to come in time, as he had pro- 
mised, there would have been no need for me to burst 
the doors ; and I made him understand that it was all 
his fault for not keeping his word, and for trifling with; 



BUSBECQ A AD HJS CAVASSE. 287 



me. I concluded by asking whether they considered 
me an ambassador or a prisoner ? ' An ambassador,' 
he answered. ' If a prisoner,' I rejoined, ' it is use- 
less employing me to make peace, as a prisoner is not 
a free agent ; but if you consider me an ambassador, 
why am I not at liberty ? Why am I prevented 
leaving my house when I please ? It is usual,' I re- 
peated, 'for prisoners to be kept shut up, but not 
for ambassadors. Indeed the freedom of ambassa- 
dors is a right recognised by the law of nations.' I 
told him also to remember that he had been attached to 
me, not as a jailor or policeman, but, as he was always 
saying himself, to assist me by his services, and to take 
care that no injury was done to myself or my servants. 
He then turned to the Janissaries, and began quar- 
relling with them for giving me advice, and helping 
my men to open the doors. They said that I had no't 
needed their advice, I had ordered them to open the 
doors and they had obeyed. They told him, with 
perfect truth, that in doing this but little exertion had 
been required, as the bars had given way under very 
slight pressure, and that nothing had been broken or 
injured. Thus the cavasse's remonstrances were stopped 
whether he would or no, and nothing more was heard 
of the matter. 

A few days later I was summoned across the sea 
myself They considered it politic that I should pass 
some time in their camp, and be treated courteously 
as the ambassador of a friendly prince. Accordingly, 
a very comfortable lodging was assigned me in a 
village adjoining the camp. The Turks were encamped 
in the neighbouring fields. As I stayed there three 
months, I had opportunities of visiting their camp, and 
making myself acquainted with their discipline You 
will hardly be satisfied if I do not give you a fe^v 



TURKISH LETTERS. 



particulars on the subject. Having put on the dress 
usually worn by Christians in those parts, I used to 
sally out incognito with one or two companions. The 
first thing that struck me was, that each corps had its 
proper quarters, from which the soldiers composing it 
were not allowed to move. Everywhere order pre- 
vailed, there was perfect silence, no disturbances, no 
quarrels, no bullying ; a state of things which must 
seem well nigh incredible to those, whose experience is 
limited to Christian camps. You could not hear so 
much as a coarse word, or a syllable of drunken abuse. 
Besides, there was the greatest cleanliness, no dung- 
hills, no heaps of refuse, nothing to offend the eyes or 
nose. Everything of the kind is either buried or 
removed out of sight. Holes are dug in the ground, 
as occasion requires, for the use of the men, which are 
again filled in with earth. Thus the whole camp is 
free from dirt. Again, no drinking parties or banquets, 
and no sort of gambling, which is the great fault of 
our soldiers, are to be seen. The Turks are un- 
acquainted with the art of losing their money at cards 
and dice. 

A little while ago I came across some soldiers 
from the borders of Hungary, amongst whom was a 
rough fellow, who, with a woe-begone face, sang or 
rather howled, to the accompaniment of a melancholy 
lyre, a lugubrious ditty, purporting to be the last words 
of a comrade dying of his wounds in a grassy meadow 
by the bank of the Danube. He called upon the 
Danube, as he flowed to the country of his kinsfolk, 
to remember to tell his friends and clansmen that he, 
while fighting for the extension of his religion and the 
honour of his tribe, had met with a death neither 
inglorious nor unavenged. Groaning over this his 
companions kept repeating, ' O man, thrice happy and 



BUSBECQ IN THE TURKISH CAMP. 28 



2i<g 



thnce blessed, how gladly would we exchange our lot 
for thine!' The Turks firmly believe that no souls 
ascend to heaven so quickly as those of brave heroes 
who have fallen in war, and tliat for their safety the 
Houris daily make prayers and vows to God. 

I had a fancy also to be conducted throuah the 
shambles where the sheep were slaughtered, Ihat I 
might see what meat there was for sale. I saw but 
four or five sheep at most, which had been flayed 
and hung up, although it was the slaughter-house of 
the Janissaries, of whom I think there were no fewer 
than four thousand in the camp. I expressed my 
astonishment that so little meat was sufficient for such 
a number of men, and was told in reply that few used it 
for a great part of them had their victuals broucxht over 
from Constantinople. When I asked what they were 
they pointed out to me a Janissary, who was eno-a<.ed 
in eating his dinner ; he was devouring, off a wooden 
or earthen trencher, a mess of turnips, onions, garlic 
parsnips, and cucumbers, seasoned with salt'' and 
vinegar, though, for the matter of that, I fancy that 
hunger was the chief sauce that seasoned his dish for 
to all appearance, he enjoyed his vegetables as much 
as If he had been dining off pheasants and partrido-es 
Water, that common beverage of men and animals is 
their only drink. This abstemious diet is good both 
tor their health and their pockets. 

I was at the camp just before their fast or Lent^ 
as w-e should call it, and thus was still more s'truck with 
the behaviour of the men. In Christian lands at this 
season, not only camps, but even orderly cities rincr 
with games and dances, songs and shouts ; every- 
where are heard the sounds of revelling, drunkenness 
and dehnum. In short, the world runs mad It k 



' See note, page 229, 
VOL. I. U 



290 TUBKISH LETTERS. 



not improbable that there is some foundation for the 
story, that a Turk, who happened to come to us on 
a diplomatic mission at one of these seasons, related 
on his return home, that the Christians, on certain 
days, go raving mad, and are restored to their senses 
and their health by a kind of ashes, which are sprinkled 
on them in their temples. He told his friends that it 
was quite remarkable to see the beneficial effects of 
this remedy ; the change was so great that one would 
hardly imagine them to be the same people. He 
referred of course to Ash Wednesday and Shrove 
Tuesday. His hearers were the more astonished, 
because the Turks are acquainted with several drugs 
which have the power of rendering people insane, 
while they know of few capable of speedily restoring 
the reason. 

During the days which immediately precede the 
season of abstinence, they do not alter their former 
mode of life, or allow themselves any extra indulgence 
in the way of food and drink. Nay rather, on the 
contrary, by diminishing their usual allowance they pre- 
pare themselves for the fast, for fear they should not be 
able to bear the sudden change. Their fast recurs every 
twelve months ; and, as twelve lunar months do not 
make up a year, it annually comes some fifteen days 
earlier. Hence it follows that, if the fast is at the 
beginning of Spring, six years later it will be kept at the 
commencement of Summer. The Turks limit their 
fast to the period of one lunar month, and the most 
severe fasts are those which fall in summer, on account 
of the lencrth of the days. Inasmuch as they keep it 
so strictly as to touch nothing, not even water— nay, 
they hold it unlawful even to wash out the mouth 

till the stars appear at even, it follows of course 

that a fast which occurs when the days are longest, 



THE FAST OF RAMAZAN. 



291 



hottest, and most dusty, is extremely trying, especially 
to those who are obliged to earn their livelihood 
by manual labour. However, they are allowed to eat 
what they please before sunrise, or to speak accu- 
rately, before the stars are dimmed by the liaht of 
that lummary, the idea being that the Sun ou'ht to 
see no one eating during the whole of the fast" On 
this account the fast, when it falls in winter, is not so 
hard to bear. 

On a cloudy day of course some mistake might 
be made about sunset. To meet this difficulty the 
priests, who act as sacristans, put lighted paper lan- 
terns on the pinnacles of the minarets. (It is from 
these minarets that they utter the loud cry which 
summons the people to praj-er, and they therefore 
answer to our belfries.^) These lights are intended 
to remove all doubt as to the time being come when 
food may be taken. Then at last, after first enterino- 
a mosque and reciting their customary prayers, the? 
return to supper. On summer days I remember seeing 
them making in crowds from the mosque to a tavern 
opposite our abode, where snow was kept for sale 
of which, by the way, there is an unfailing supply 
from Mount Olympus, in Asia), and asking^or iced 
water, which they drank, sitting cross-legged, for the 
Turks have a scruple about eating or drh^dng stand- 
ing, If they can help it. But as the evening was too 

LT r r '^ ^'^^ ^^ ^^^ ^^'^^^ ^hey --- squat 

nderstood T vT '°"" °' "^ acquaintance, 'who 
understood Turkish customs, to enlighten me and 

found that each took a great draughf of cold water 

stick in their throats, parched as they were by heat 
and fasting, and also that their appedte was stimt 

' See page loi. 
u 2 



292 TURKISH LETTERS. 



lated by the cold drink. No special kinds ol food 
are appointed to be eaten during the fast; nor does 
their religion prescribe abstinence during that season 
from anything which they are allowed to eat at other 
times. Should they happen to have any illness which 
prevents their observing the fast, they may disre- 
gard it, on condition, however, of making up, when 
they get well, the number of fasting days which their 
health has compelled them to miss. Likewise, when 
they are in an enemy's country and an engagement is 
apprehended, they are ordered to postpone their fast 
to some other time, lest they should be hurgry and 
faint on the day of battle. If they hesitate to 
do so, the Sultan himself takes food publicly at mid- 
day before the eyes of the army, that all may be 
encouraged by his example to do the same. But as at 
other times of the year they are forbidden, by their 
religion, to drink wine, and cannot taste it without 
committing a sin, so they are most scrupulous in 
observing this rule all the days of the fast, and even the 
most careless and profligate people not only abstain 
from wine, but shun the very smell of it. 

I remember that, after I had made many enquiries 
as to the reason why Mahomet had so strictly forbidden 
his followers to drink wine, I was one day told this 
story. Mahomet happened to be travelling to a friend, 
and halted on his way at midday at a man's house, 
where a wedding feast was being celebrated. At his 
host's invitation he sat down with them, and greatly 
admired the exceeding gaiety of -the banqueters and 
their earnest demonstrations of affection — such as shak- 
ing of hands, embraces, and kisses. He asked his host 
the reason, and was informed that such feelings were 
the consequence of wine. Accordingly on his de- 
parture he blessed that beverage as being the cause of 



JFJIV MAHOMET PROHIBITED WTNE. 293 



such affection among mankind. But on his return 
the day after, when he entered the same house, a far 
different sight was presented to his eyes ; on all sides 
were the traces of a cruel fight, the ground was stained 
with gore and strewn with human limbs ; here lay an 
arm and there a foot ; and other fragments were scat- 
tered all about. On his asking what had been the 
cause of so much mischief, he heard that the ban- 
queters he had seen the day before had got maddened 
with wine and quarrelled, and that a fearful butchery 
had been the consequence. On this account, Ma- 
homet changed his opinion and cursed the use of wine, 
making a decree for all time that his followers should 
not touch it. 

So, drinking being prohibited, peace and silence 
reign in a Turkish camp, and this is more especially 
the case during their Lent. Such 'is the result pro- 
duced by military discipline, and the stern laws be- 
queathed them by their ancestors. The Turks allow 
no crime and no disgraceful act to go unpunished. 
The penalties are degradation from office, loss of rank, 
confiscation of property, the bastinado, and death. The 
most usual is the bastinado, from which not even the 
Janissaries themselves are exempt, though they are not 
subject to capital punishment. Their lighter faults are 
punished with the stick, their graver with dismissal from 
the service or removal to a different corps, a penalty 
they consider worse than death, by which indeed such 
a sentence is almost always followed. For when the 
Janissaries are stripped of their uniform, they are ban- 
ished to distant garrisons on the furthest frontiers, 
where their life is one of ignominy and disgrace ; or 
if the crime is so atrocious as to render it necessary 
to make an example of the culprit, an excuse is found 
for putting him to death in the place to Avhich he has 



294 TURKISH LETTERS. 



been banished. But the punishment of death is in- 
flicted on him not as a Janissary, but as a common 
soldier. 

The endurance of the Turks in undergoing punish- 
ment is truly marvellous. They often receive more than 
a hundred blows on their soles, ankles, and buttocks, so 
that sometimes several sticks of dogwood are broken 
on them, and the executioner has to say repeatedly, 
' Give me the other stick.' ^ Although remedies are at 
hand, yet it sometimes happens that many pounds of 
gangrened flesh have to be cut oft" from the places 
which have been beaten. They are obliged notwith- 
standing to go to the ofiicer by whose orders they 
have been punished, and to kiss his hand and thank him, 
and also to pay the executioner a fixed fee for every 
stroke. As to the stick with which they are beaten, 
they consider it a sacred thing, and are quite convinced 
that the first bastinado stick fell down from the 
same place from which the Romans believed their 
sacred shields descended, I mean from heaven. That 
they may have some consolation for such pain, they 
also believe that the parts, which have been touched 
by the stick, will after this life be safe from the fires of 
purgatory. 

In saying that the camp was free from quarrels 
and tumults, it is necessary to make one exception, for 
some trouble was caused by my people. A few of 
them had gone out of the camp to stroll along the 
shore without Janissaries, having only taken with them 
some Italian renegadoes. Among the various advan- 
tages which such renegadoes enjoy, the greatest per- 
haps is the power of ransoming prisoners. They go 
to the people who have possession of the captives, 

^ 'Cedo alteram,' the original Latin, is a quotation from Tacitus. 
{Annals, i. 23). 



BUSBECQS SERVANTS IN TROUBLE. 295 

and pretend that they are their relations or connections, 
or at any rate their fellow-countrymen. After speaking 
of the great pain it gives them to see their friends in 
such a position, they ask the masters to take their value 
and emancipate them, or else to make them over to 
themselves. To such a request the masters make no 
difficulty in agreeing ; whereas, if a Christian were to 
ask the same favour, they would either refuse it or 
demand a much higher price. To return to my sub- 
ject, when my men had gone out they came upon 
some Janissaries, who, by way of performing their ablu- 
tions, had taken a swim in the sea. They had left 
their turbans behind, and their only head-dress was a 
piece of linen roughly folded. The Janissaries seeing 
my men were Christians began to abuse them. For 
the Turks not only consider it lawful to call Christians 
by insulting names and otherwise abuse them, but even 
think it meritorious, on the ground that they may 
possibly be shamed into changing their religion for 
the faith of the Turks, when they see what insults 
they are exposed to on its account. My men, when 
thus assailed, abused them in return, and at last from 
words they came to blows, the Italians I mentioned 
taking the side of my men. The end of it was, 
that the head-wrapper of one of the Janissaries was 
lost in the scuffle, how or where I cannot say. The 
Janissaries, having traced my people to my quarters, 
went to their commanding officer and charged them 
with having caused this loss. The officer ordered 
them to summon my interpreter, v/ho had been present 
at the skirmish. They seized him, as he was sitting 
at the door, while I was looking down from the ve- 
randah above. I felt that this was a very gross insult ; 
here was one of my people being carried off without 
my permission, and not only so, but carried off, as I 



295 TURKISH LETTERS. 



knew right well, having heard of the affair from my 
servants, to receive a flogging. This was certain to 
be his fate, for he was a Turkish subject. I went down 
and laying my hand on him told them to let him go, 
which they did ; but they went off to their commander 
more savage than ever. He directed them to take 
some more men, and bring before him the renegade 
Italians I mentioned, charging them at the same time 
to be careful not to use violence to me or the house 
where I was staying. Accordingly they came again 
making a great uproar, and standing on the road de- 
manded the surrender of the men with loud cries and 
threats. But the Italians foreseeing what would happen, 
had already crossed the Bosphorus to Constantinople. 
This went on for a long time with much bad language 
on both sides, till at last the cavasse I was then em- 
ploying, an old man on the brink of the grave, becom- 
ing nervous at the uproar, thrust into their hands, 
without my knowledge, some pieces of gold as the 
price of the lost head-wrapper, and thus our peace was 
made. 

One reason for telling you this adventure is, that it 
gave me an opportunity of learning from Roostem 
himself the light in which the Janissaries are regarded 
by the Sultan. For when he heard of this disturb- 
ance he sent a man warning me, to use his own words, 
' to remove every cause of offence which might occasion 
a quarrel with those atrocious scoundrels. Was I not 
aware, that it was war time, when they were masters, 
so that not even Solyman himself had control over 
them, and was actually himself afraid of receivino- vio- 
lence at their hands .'' ' These were no random words 
of Roostem's ; he knew what he was talking about 
for his master's anxieties were no secret to him. What 
the Sultan dreaded most in the world was secret disaf- 



ALBERT DE WYSS. 297 



fection among- the Janissaries ; disafifection which would 
lie hidden for a time, and then break out at a critical 
moment when he had no power to counteract it. His 
alarm is certainly not without foundation ; for while 
there are great advantages to a Sovereign in the posses- 
sion of a standing army, there are on the other hand, 
if proper precautions be not taken, considerable dis- 
advantages. The greatest of all is, that the soldiers 
have it in their power to depose their Sovereign and 
place another on the throne ; and the fear of a revolu- 
tion of this kind must be ever present to the minds of 
the masters. Striking instances might be quoted of 
Sovereigns who were dethroned by their own troops ; 
but it is by no means impossible to guard against such 
occurrences. 

During my stay at the camp, Albert de Wyss,^ a 
gentleman and a good scholar, arrived. If I am not 
mistaken, he is a native of Amersfort. He brought as 
presents from the Emperor to the Sultan some gilded 
cups and a clock of gkilful workmanship, which was 
mounted like a tower on the back of an elephant, and 
also some money for distribution among the Pashas. 
Solyman desired me to present these gifts to him in 
the camp, in the sight of the army, as a fresh proof to 
his subjects that he and the Emperor were firm friends. 
He was anxious that such an idea should prevail, and 
also that an impression should be produced, that no 
warlike movement on the part of the Christians was 
likely to take place. 

I now return to the point from which I began this 
digression, namely to Bajazet, who had retreated from 
the battle field of Koniah to Amasia, his own eovern- 
ment, apparently with the resolution of remaining quiet 
there, if his father should allow him to do so. He had 

' See Sketch of Hungarian History. 



298 TURKISH LETTERS. 

obeyed the dictates of his passion and his youthful 
ambition ; now he seemed to intend for the future to 
play the part of a dutiful son. He continually endea- 
voured to ascertain his father's disposition by letters 
and agents. Solyman did not show himself averse to 
a reconciliation. At firsf he made no difficulty in 
giving the messengers audience, read the letters and 
did not answer them harshly, so that a report was 
prevalent throughout the camp that the father would 
be reconciled to the son, and pardon his youthful 
indiscretion, on his promising to be loyal for the future. 
But in reality the crafty old man was playing a very 
deep game suggested to him by the Pashas, he was 
deluding Bajazet with hopes of forgiveness until the 
toils should be prepared, and he should be ready to 
seize his prisoner alive. For it was apprehended that, 
if he was driven to despair, he would make his escape 
to the territory of the King of Persia, which was his 
only refuge, before the governors of the intervening 
country had time to guard and watch the roads. Soly- 
man kept sending messenger after messenger to them, 
urging them not to leave any loophole however small 
for Bajazet to escape to Persia. Meanwhile anyone 
suspected of a leaning towards Bajazet who fell into 
the Sultan's hands was secretly executed, after being 
questioned by torture. Among them were some whom 
Bajazet had sent to clear his character. 

The kingdom of Persia, though Solyman has torn 
away from it much territory by war, namely Babylonia 
itself, Mesopotamia, and part of Media, includes at the 
present time all the tribes that dwell between the 
Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, with some portion 
of Greater Armenia. The Sovereign of this country 
is Shah Tahmasp, who, besides the territory I men- 
tioned, reigns over regions still more remote, as far as 



PERSIA AND HER SOVEREIGNS. 299 



the dominions of the Prince who is called by the Turks 
Humayoum Padischah.^ The father of the present 
Shah was defeated many years ago by Selim in a great 
batde on the plains of Tschaldiran,^and from that time 

^ The Persian dominions were bounded on the east by the country 
now known as Afghanistan, which then formed part of the empire of the 
Mogul Emperors, or Padischahs, of Delhi, the second of whom was Hu- 
mayoum, the father of the famous Akbar. During his life of forty-nine 
years Humayoum experienced extraordinary changes of fortune, losing 
his throne, and being obliged, after imdergoing the greatest hardships 
and dangers in his flight through the desert, to take refuge with Shah 
Tahmasp. Eventually he regained his dominions, and at his death in 
1556 was the ruler of Cabul and Candahar, and also of the Punjaub, 
together with Delhi and Agra and the adjoining parts of India. 

^ Shah Ismael was the founder of the dynasty of the Sofis or Saffis, 
so called from Sheik Suffee-u-deen of Ardebil, a devotee renowned for 
his sanctity, from whom Shah Ismael was the sixth in descent. His 
father, Hyder, on the death of his uncle and father-in-law Uzun Hussun, 
the prince of the dynasty of the White Sheep, invaded Shirwan at the 
head of a body of partisans. He made his troops wear red turbans, 
whence, according to one account, comes the name of Kizilbash (Red 
Heads), by which the Persians were known among the Turks. Hyder 
was killed in battle, and his sons were thrown into prison, but they after- 
wards escaped. The eldest was killed in battle, the second died in 
Ghilan, Ismael, the youngest, in 1499, at the age of fourteen, took the 
field against the Turkomans, who were then in possession of the greater 
part of Persia, and in the course of four campaigns succeeded in estab- 
lishing his authority throughout the country. His family claimed descent 
from the seventh Imaum, and their great ancestor, Ali, was the special 
object of their reverence. The very name of Schiah, which means a 
sectary, and which Ismael's enemies had given him as a reproach, became 
a title in which he gloried. When Sultan Selim I. massacred his co- 
religionists (see note page 161), the natural consequence was a war 
between Turkey and Persia. The Turkish army advanced through Kur- 
distan and Azerbijan on Tabriz, which was then the Persian capital. 
They were much embarrassed by want of provisions, as the Persians 
retired, laying waste the country in their retreat. A threatened mutiny 
among the Janissaries was quelled only by Selim's presence of mind and 
resolution. Ismael at last abandoned his Fabian tactics, and took up a 
position in the valley of Tschaldiran, some 30 miles south-east of 
Bayezid. A bloody and fiercely contested battle (August 23, 15 14) ended 
m the complete victory of Selim, which he owed mainly to his artillery 
and the firearms of the Janissaries. This success was followed by the 
occupation of Tabriz,, but Selim was obliged by the discontent of his 
troops to return homewards. The acquisition of Diarbekir and Kur- 



300 TURKISH LETTERS. 



the fortunes of Persia have been dedining, under the 
powerful attacks of the Emperor Solyman, for Tahmasp 
has defended himself with but little vigour and in no way 
displayed the spirit of his father. At the present time 
he is said to be leading the life of a mere voluptuary ; 
he never leaves his harem, where he divides his time 
between dallying with his favourites and forecasting 
the future by means pf lots. Meanwhile he neglects 
to enforce the laws or to administer justice, and con- 
sequently, brigandage and outrages of every kind 
prevail throughout the different tribes that are subject 
to his sway, and so the poor and helpless throughout 
Persia are suffering every kind of oppression at the 
hands of the strong, and it is useless for innocence to 
resort to the King for protection. This culpable neg- 
lect of his duty as a ruler has so little impaired 
either his influence or the superstitious veneration with 
which his person is regarded, that they think that a 
blessing falls on those who have kissed the doorposts 
of his palace, and they keep the water in which he has 
washed his hands as a sovereign cure for divers 
diseases. Of his numerous offspring one son is called 
Ismael after his grandfather, and on him has also 
descended his grandfather's spirit. He is extremely 
handsome, and is a deadly enemy of the house of 
Othman. They say that when he first entered the 
world his baby hand was found to be full of blood, and 
this was commonly regarded by his countrymen as a 
sign that he would be a man of war. Nor did he belie 
the prediction, for hardly had he grown up to manhood 
when he inflicted a bloody defeat on his Turkish 

distan was, however, the result of this campaign. Apart from his defeat 
by Selim, Ismael reigned with unbroken success till his death in 1523. He 
was succeeded by his son Shah Tahmasp.— See Malcolm, History of 
Persia, i. ch. 12. 



so LYMAN'S MOTIVES 301 



enemies. One of the articles of the treaty between 
his father and Solyman was that he should not be 
allowed to attack the Turks, and in accordance with 
this stipulation he was sent to a distance from the 
frontier and there confined in prison. He is, however, 
the person marked out by the aspirations of the nation 
as successor to the throne on his father's decease. 

Accordingly Solyman was afraid that the Shah, who, 
by the way, is better known to us as the Sophi, would 
have a keener recollection of their ancient quarrels than of 
the peace which he had been recently compelled to 
make, and that consequently, if his son should escape 
mto Persia, he would not allow him to be taken away 
without a great deal of trouble, and that possibly a long 
and harassing war would be the result. He therefore 
took the utmost pains to apprehend Bajazet, before he 
should escape thither He remembered that the sup- 
port,^ which, a few years before, he himself had given 
to Elkass, the brother of Tahmasp, who had taken 
refuge with him,i had been the cause of many years of 
annoyance and anxiety to Tahmasp, and his conscience 
told him that this would be an opportunity for the 
latter to retaliate, and perhaps to make an attempt to 
recover the territory which he had lost in war. 

Although the designs of Solyman were kept very 
secret, they were not unobserved by Bajazet's friends, 
who repeatedly warned him not to trust his father,' 
to be on his guard against plots, and to take betimes 
the best measures in his power for his safety. A little 
matter is often the immediate cause of a very serious 
step, and so it was in this case. What drove him to 
take his friends' advice was, as I have heard, the cir- 
cumstance that one of his spies, who was arrested in 
the camp, was by Solyman's orders publicly executed 

' See Sketch of Htingarian History. 



302 TURKISH LETTERS. 

by impalement, on the pretext that he had been en- 
listed by Bajazet after he had been strictly forbidden 
to enroll any more soldiers. When informed of his 
follower's execution, Bajazet immediatel)^ felt that his 
only chance was to fly for his life. Solyman, on the 
other hand, thinking he had now made certain of his 
not escaping, or perhaps to deceive him the more, 
ordered his army to return to Constantinople the day 
after the festival of Bairam. 

At Amasia, on the very day of the feast, as soon 
as the usual ceremonies were finished, Bajazet ordered 
his baggage to be packed up and began his ill-starred 
journey to Persia ; he knew right well that he was 
going to the ancient enemy of the house of Othman, but 
he was fully resolved to throw himself on any one's 
mercy rather than fall into his father's hands. Every 
man marched out who was capable of bearing arms ; 
none but women and children unequal to the fatigues 
of a long journey were left behind. Among the latter 
was a newly born son of Bajazet, with his mother ; his 
father preferred to leave the innocent babe to his grand- 
father's mercy, rather than take him as a companion of 
his anxious and miserable flight. This child Solyman 
ordered to be taken care of at Broussa, feeling as yet 
uncertain what his father's fate might be. 

I should have returned to Constantinople on the 
day before the Bairam,^ had I not been detained by 
my wish to see that day's ceremonies. The Turks 
were about to celebrate the rites of the festival on an 
open and level plain before the tents of Solyman ; and 
I could hardly hope that such an occasion of seeing 
them would ever present itself again. I gave my 
servants orders to promise a soldier some money and 
so get me a place in his tent, on a mound which com- 

' See note, page 229. 



THE FEAST OF BAIRAM. 303 



manded a good view of Solyman's pavilions. Thither 
I repaired at sunrise. I saw assembled on the plain 
a mighty multitude of turbaned heads, attentively 
following, in the most profound silence, the words of 
the priest who was leading their devotions. They 
kept their ranks, each in his proper position ; the lines 
of troops looked like so many hedges or walls parting 
out the wide plain, on which they were drawn up. 
According to its rank in the service each corps was 
posted nearer to, or farther from, the place where the 
Sultan stood. The troops were dressed in brilliant 
uniforms, their head-dresses rivalling snow in white- 
ness. The scene which met my eyes was charming, 
the different colours having a most pleasing effect. 
The men were so motionless that they seertied rooted 
to the ground on which they stood. There was no 
coughing, no clearing the throat, and no voice to be 
heard, and no one looked behind him or moved his 
head. When the priest pronounced the name of Ma- 
homet all alike bowed their heads to their knees at 
the same moment, and when he uttered the name of 
God they fell on their faces in worship and kissed the 
ground. The Turks join in their devotions with great 
ceremony and attention, for if they even raise a finger 
to scratch their head, their prayer, they think, will not 
be accepted. ' For,' say they, 'if you had to converse 
with Pashas would you not do so with your body in a 
respectful attitude ? how much more are we bounden 
to observe the same reverence towards God, who is so 
far above the highest earthly eminence } ' Such is their 
logic. When prayers were finished, the serried ranks 
broke up, and the whole plain was gradually covered 
with their surging masses. Presently the Sultan's ser- 
vants appeared bringing their master's dinner, when, 
lo and behold ! the Janissaries laid their hands on the 



304 TURKISH LETTERS. 



dishes, seized their contents and devoured them, amid 
much merriment. This licence is allowed by ancient 
custom as part of that day's festivity, and the Sultan's 
wants are otherwise provided for. I returned to Con- 
stantinople full of the brilliant spectacle, which I had 
thoroughly enjoyed. 

I have a little more news to give you about Bajazet 
and then I will release you, as you are probably as 
tired of reading as I am of writing. Bajazet, as you 
have heard, having started from Amasia with his 
escort in light marching order, travelled with such 
speed that his arrival almost everywhere anticipated 
the tidings of his approach, and many who had been 
ordered to look out for his passage were taken by sur- 
prise, before their preparations were completed. He 
gave the Pasha of Siwas the slip by the following 
stratagem. There were two roads, of which the Pasha 
had occupied the one which was of importance to 
Bajazet ; the latter, however, sent some pretended 
deserters to tell the Pasha that he had already passed 
by the other road. As the Pasha thought this not 
improbable, he left his position on the road he had 
occupied, and hastily led his forces across to the 
other road, by which he believed Bajazet to be 
going, and so left him a free passage. 

He likewise imposed on the Pasha of Erzeroum by 
a somewhat similar stratagem. When he was not far 
off and knew there was much danger awaitino- him in 
his passage through that Pashalik, he had recourse to 
the following device ; he sent messengers to salute 
him, and told theui to relate his misfortunes in the most 
pathetic manner, in hopes of exciting his sympathv. 
They were to conclude their appeal by asking per- 
mission to get shoes for the horses, telling the Pasha, 
the Prince's troops were quite worn out by the hard- 



INCIDENTS OF BAJAZETS FLIGHT. 



305 



ships of the march, and that he intended remainincr 
a day or two where there was plenty of fodder iS 
order to rest his horses, and to put new shoes 'on 
them The Pasha courteously replied that he did not 
lorbid hmi to take what he wanted ; whether he was 
mfluenced by pity for Bajazet's misfortunes, or' by 
mclmation to his party, as some people thoucrht I 
cannot say ; perhaps, after all, his design was to dirow 
Bajazet off his guard and so take him prisoner or 
time may have been needed to concentrate his troops 
who had been surprised by Bajazet's rapid march He 
also sent him some small presents as a compliment 
and congratulated him on his safe arrival ; but Bajazet 
instead of making any halt, pressed on, allowin<v his 
troops no rest by day and only a short one by night 

When the Pasha of Erzeroum became aware that 
Bajazetwas hurrying on, he quickened his movements 
and joined the other Pashas who were followin<. in 
pursuit, for, as soon as it was known that Bajazet liad 
lelt Amasia, Solyman sent several Sanjak-beys and 
Pashas after him, threatening them with the loss of 
their heads if they did not bring him back, alive or 
dead. But this was all in vain on account of Bajazet's 
hasty departure, and also because the fugitive's speed 
was greater than that of his pursuers. But after all 
Bajazet's flight cost none more dear than the above' 
mentioned Pasha of Erzeroum, who was removed from 
his Pashal.k by Solyman, and put to death by Selim 
with his two young sons, after they had first been 
horribly ill-treated. Meanwhile, both Selim and Me- 
hemet Pasha and the Beyler-bey of Greece, although a 
long way behind, continued their pursuit of Bajazet 

His departure came upon Solyman as a very heavy 
blow, for he surmised correcdy that Bajazet was 
making for Persia ; he could scarcely be kept from 
VOL. I. X "^ 



3o6 TURKISH LETTERS. 



marching, with the whole Imperial guard, both foot 
and horse, and making a demonstration against the 
King of Persia. But his rash impetuosity was moder- 
ated by his counsellors, who pointed out what danger 
might arise from the disaffection of the soldiery. There 
was also the risk of Bajazet's marching round by the 
North of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azoff, and sud- 
denly making a desperate attack on Constantinople ; 
it would then be in his power to create an army by 
offering their freedom to the slaves and the recruits 
whom they call Agiamoglans,^ and to penetrate into 
the deserted capital. By such warnings they induced 
Solyman to abandon his design. Moreover, Bajazet 
left notices on the doorposts of the mosques, wherever 
he passed, promising to give double pay to any soldiers 
who went over to his side. These proclamations 
made the officers anxious, as they felt they could not 
trust their men, and this feeling was increased by the 
fact that remarks were constantly heard in the ranks, 
which showed a strong tendency in Bajazet's favour. 

At last Bajazet reached the riv^r Araxes, which 
divides the Turkish territory from Persia. Even after 

' 'The youths among the Christian tribmte children most conspicuous 
for birth, talent, and beauty were admitted into the inferior class of 
a^iamoglaHS or the more liberal rank of iclioglans, of whom the former 
were attached to the palace and the latter to the person of the prince.' — 
Gibbon, ch. Ixv. Busbecq, in his Art of War against the Turks, gives an 
account of the method by which the Turkish army was recruited from the 
children of Christians. Every year the Sultan sent to his different 
provinces, and took one out of every three or four of the boys. When 
they arrived at Constantinople, the handsomest and cleverest were placed 
in the households of the Sultan and Pashas. Of the rest some were hired 
out to farmers, &c., and the remainder employed in pubUc works. The 
former were fed and clothed by their masters, till they grew up, when 
they were drafted into the ranks of the Janissaries, as vacancies occurred. 
Those who were placed in the Sultan's household often rose to the highest 
offices of the state. The last of these levies of Christian children was 
made in 1638.— Von Hammer, book xlviii. tome i.x. p. 325. 



BAJAZET ENTERS PERSIA. 307 



he had passed it he did not feel secure, and, to prevent 
the Sanjak-beys, who were in pursuit, from crossing, he 
placed on the bank of the river, as guards, some of' his 
men who had volunteered for that duty. They were, 
however, easily routed by the Sanjak-beys, who 
penetrated a considerable distance beyond the Persian 
frontiers, till they met Persian officers with a large 
body of cavalry, who demanded what they meant and 
what they wanted in foreign territory. The Turks 
replied that they were trying to recover the runaway 
son of their Sovereign. The Persians retorted that 
the Turks were violating the treaty by crossing the 
frontier with arms in their hands. There was peace 
and friendship, they said, between Shah Tahmasp and 
their master, and this state of things ought to be re- 
spected. The Shah's decision about Baja^'zet would be 
one worthy of himself and he would loyally fulfil his 
obligations. Meanwhile they would do well if they 
departed from a country in which they had no right to 
be. By these arguments the Turks were inducted to 
return. 

Soon afterwards there came to Bajazet envoys sent 
by the Persian King to salute him and enquire the 
reason of his coming, and also to ascertain what forces 
he brought with him.^ Bajazet told them that he 
had been driven from his country by his brother's 
wrongful acts and his father's partiality, and had fled 
to the protection of the King of Persia, as the only 
sanctuary he had left, and expressed his hope that the 
Shah, remembering the uncertainties of human fortune, 
would not refuse the prayers of a suppliant who had 
no one else to help him. In reply to this appeal he 

' In the account of the Shah's dealings with Bajazet, we have fol- 
lowed the readings given in all the editions prior to the Elzevir. See 
Appendix, List of Editions. 

X 2 



3o8 TURKISH LETTERS. 

received a message from the Shah, saying that he had 
acted but inconsiderately in coming to him, as he knew 
that there was peace and friendship between himself 
and his father, and also that they had agreed to hold 
each other's friends and foes as their own, which terms 
he felt bound to observe. However, as circumstances 
had taken this course, he bade him come in God's 
name, give him his hand and become his guest ; he 
promised that he would leave nothing undone to restore 
him to favour with his father. 

Accordingly Bajazet paid a visit to the Shah, — a 
visit which was destined to be his ruin. At first every- 
thing presented an aspect of welcome, the Shah's 
countenance wore a cheerful and friendly expression, 
gifts were exchanged as between host and guest, and 
they had frequent interviews and feasted at the same 
table, but these courtesies only served as screens for 
their secret intentions. A marriage alliance was also 
spoken of, one of the daughters of the Persian King 
being betrothed to Orchan, Bajazet's son, and Bajazet's 
hopes were confirmed that the Shah would not rest 
till Solyman had given him the Pashalik of Mesopo- 
tamia, Babylonia, or Erzeroum. The Shah represented 
the advantages of these governments in glowing terms, 
telling him that he could live there without any fear, 
since he would be at a distance from his brother and 
father, while, if he was threatened with any danger, his 
retreat was secured, as he could depend on the protec- 
tion of his son's father-in-law, who would defend him 
and keep him safe from every possible peril. 

The object of such language on the part of the 
Shah was, in all probability, to prevent Bajazet's per- 
ceiving the danger he was incurring. Indeed he be- 
lieved himself so sure of Tahmasp's goodwill, that, 
when the latter was sending an ambassador to Soly- 



BAJAZETS RECEPTION BY THE SHAH. 



309 



man at Constantinople for the purpose, as was gene- 
rally believed, of effecting a reconciliation between him 
and his son, he desired the envoy to tell Solyman, that 
though he had lost one father in Turkey he had found 
another in Persia. Whether, however, the Persian 
King was sincere in his efforts to restore Bajazet to his 
father's favour by means of the numerous ambassadors 
he sent, may be reasonably doubted. For my own 
part, I consider it more probable that in all this the 
Shah's concern for Bajazet's welfare was pretended 
rather than genuine, and that his real object was to 
sound Solyman's intentions ; for in the meantime there 
was no pause in making all the preparations for his de- 
struction. When they were sufficiently advanced, it 
was artfully suggested that his present quarters were 
too small for such a number of men, that provisions 
were getting scarce, and that it was advisable to dis- 
tribute them among the neighbouring villages ; this 
arrangement, it was urged, would be a more convenient 
one in many ways, and especially with regard to the 
supply of provisions. Shah Tahmasp, who had not his 
father's courage, was indeed dreadfully alarmed, fancy- 
ing that he was cherishing a serpent in his bosom. 
This is my own opinion, though there are people who 
maintain that it was not the Shah's original intention 
to destroy Bajazet, but that he was forced to do so 
by the monstrous wickedness of some of the latter's 
friends, who, forgetful of the benefits they had received 
and the ties of hospitality, urged Bajazet to rob him of 
his kmgdom ; that unmistakable proofs of such inten- 
tions were detected, nay, that an atrocious speech 
made by one of Bajazet's chief officers was brought to 
the King's ears; namely, 'What are we about, and 
why do we hesitate to kill this heretic and seize his 
throne ? Can any one doubt that through his treacherous 



310 TURKISH LETTERS. 

plots we are in imminent danger of destruction ? ' This 
it was, they say, that induced Shah Tahmasp to stoop 
to an expedient dictated by necessity rather than by 
honour. 

Though the forces Bajazet had were not large, yet 
they were warlike, and among them were many brave 
men who were ready for any adventure; the Persian 
King was afraid of them, and not without reason either. 
He knew that his dynasty was one of recent origin, 
and that it had obtained the throne under the pretence 
of religion.^ Who could guarantee that among the 
numerous nations which owed him allegiance there 
would not be many persons who were dissatisfied, and 
consequently ripe for revolution .'' For them nothing 
more opportune could occur than Bajazet s arrival, as 
he was a bold and vigorous man in the flower of youth, 
and had the most important qualification for a leader ; 
namely, that his position was desperate. Hitherto, 
the Shah reflected, he seemed to be more in Bajazet's 
power than Bajazet in his. A change must be made, 
and he must no longer treat him as a guest, but chain 
him like a wild beast. Nor would this be difficult to 
accomplish, if his troops were first dispersed, and he 
were then surprised and seized himself, when none of 
his men could help him. It was obvious that he could 
not be captured in open fight without much bloodshed. 
The Persian troops were enervated by a long peace, and 
were not concentrated ; Bajazet's, on the other hand, 
were on the spot, ready for action, and well drilled. 

Accordingly it was suggested to Bajazet that he 
should separate his troops, and all the arguments in 

' 'The Persians dwell with rapture on the character of Ismael, deem- 
ing him not only the founder of a great dynasty, but the person to whom 
the faith they glory in owes its establishment as a national religion.' — Mal- 
colm, History ofPersia,\. p. 328. On his accession Ismael declared Schiism 
to be the national religion. See also note 2, p. 299 and note p. 161 . 



BAJAZET THROWN INTO PRISON 311 



favour of such a course were pressed upon him. He 
felt that the appeal was unanswerable, though some 
gallant men in his service had the sagacity to see that 
the proposed arrangement wore a most suspicious ap- 
pearance But how could he refuse in his helpless 
position, when he had no other hope left, when his life 
was at the mercy of the Shah, — indeed he might 
deem himself lucky to be alive at all, — and when to 
doubt his host's honour miq-ht be taken as a sign of 
the most treacherous intentions ? So the poor fellows, 
who were never to meet again, were conducted to dif- 
ferent villages and quartered where the Persians thought 
fit. After waiting a few days for a favourable oppor- 
tunity, these scattered detachments were each sur- 
rounded by greatly superior forces, and butchered. 
Their horses, arms, clothes, and all their other effects 
became the booty of their murderers. At the same 
time Bajazet was seized while at the Shah's table, and 
was thrown into chains. Some people think this viola- 
tion of the laws of hospitality gready aggravated the 
baseness of the act. His children likewise were placed 
in confinement. 

You wished to have the latest news of Bajazet, so 
here it is for you. As to what is in store for him in 
the future, I think no one would find it easy to predict. 
Opinions vary ; some people think he will be made a 
Sanjak-bey, and as such will be given Babylonia or 
some similar province, on the most distant frontiers of 
the dominions of the two monarchs. Others place no 
hope either in Tahmasp or Solyman, considering it all 
over with Bajazet, who, they think, will either be 
sent back here for execution, or perish miserably in 
prison. They argue that the Persian King, when he 
used force against Bajazet, did not do so without much 
consideration, fearing no doubt that if that active and 



312 TURKISH LETTERS. 



high-spirited young man, who was a far better 
soldier than his brother, should succeed his father on 
the throne, much mischief would be thereby caiused to 
his kingdom and himself. It would be much more to 
his advantage, if Selim, who is naturally inclined to 
gluttony and sloth, should become Sultan, since in that 
case there is good hope of peace and quiet for many 
a year. They are of opinion that for these reasons 
the Shah will never let Bajazet escape alive out of his 
hands, but will prefer to kill him in his prison ; giving 
out a story, which no one could consider improbable, 
that the young man's spirit had given way under con- 
finement, and that he had died from mental depression. 
However that may be, it is in my judgment impossible 
for him to hope that one, whom he has so deeply in- 
jured, will ever be his friend. 

You see different people have different opinions ; I 
consider myself, that, whatever the end of the business 
may be, it will be a complicated one, as indeed I wish 
it may, for the success of our negotiations is closely 
connected with the fortunes of Bajazet. They will not 
be inclined to turn their arms against us till they see 
their way out of this difficulty. Even now they are 
trying to force on me for transmission to the Em- 
peror despatches, and I know not what proposals for 
peace, which, they want me to believe, are very nearly 
in accordance with his wishes, but they do not give me 
any copy of them according to the usual practice, and 
this omission makes me suspect that they are not 
sincere. On this account I make a rule of reso- 
lutely refusing to forward despatches to the Emperor, 
without the purport of them being previously commu- 
nicated to me. But, if after presenting me with a copy 
they should still deceive me, then I should be in pos- 
session of a document, which would at once free me 



BUSBECQS PRESENT POSITION. 



^i^Z 



from all responsibility, and convict them of dishonesty. 
In this course I am determined to persevere, and so to 
relieve my master from the difficulty of replying to 
their quibbling despatches, for he will accept no terms 
of peace that are not honourable. But you will say 
that by refusing proposals of peace, whatever their 
nature may be, a step towards war seems to be taken. 
Well, for my part, I consider it better policy to wait 
and see what will happen, withoutcommitting ourselves 
to any engagements. Meanwhile I will take the blame 
of not forwarding the despatches upon myself, and if the 
Turkish negotiators are disappointed in their hopes 
with regard to Bajazet's speedy death, I do not think 
I shall find much trouble in clearing myself of it. In 
the other alternative, I shall have somewhat greater 
difficulties to overcome, but I consider that I shall 
have very good explanations to offer, and shall be able 
to assign adequate reasons for all I have done. The 
Turks are not in the habit of showing resentment 
towards those who they see are taking pains to ma- 
nage their master's affairs to the best of their ability. 
Besides, the Sultan is getting old, which is another 
pomt in my favour, as in the opinion of the Pashas 
he requires rest, and ought not to be exposed unneces- 
sarily to the hardships of war. As regards myself, 
the policy I have sketched out must of course involve 
me m further trouble and vexation ; but I feel that I 
am right, and if matters turn out as I hope, I shall 
have no reason to regret the sacrifice I am making. 

Now you have got a book, not a letter. If I am to 
blame for this, you are equally so ; you imposed the 
task ; the labour bestowed on this despatch was taken 
at your desire. Complaisance is the only thing I can 
be blamed for, and yet this between friends is often 
considered a ground for commendation. I have some 



314 TURKISH LETTERS. 



hopes however that you will find pleasure in reading 
what I found pleasure in writing. After I had once 
commenced my letter I was tempted to spin it out. 
For whilst writing to you I found that I felt free once 
more, and fancied myself to be enjoying your society 
in a far-distant land ; you must therefore consider any 
trifling passages in my letter as the casual chit chat of 
a crony by your side. A letter has always been 
thought entitled to the same allowances as conversation. 
Neither ought to be closely criticised. Amongst 
friends you may say what first comes uppermost, and 
tlie same rule holds good when one is writing to 
intimate friends ; to weigh one's expressions would be 
to abandon one's privileges. Just as public buildings 
require the perfection of workmanship, while nothing 
of the sort is expected in domestic offices, so this 
letter of mine does not pretend to be a work of general 
public interest, but simply some unpretentious jottings 
for the benefit of yourself and the friends to whom 
you may care to show it. If it only pleases you, I for 
my part am content. My Latin, some one might say, 
would bear improvement, and also my style. Well, 
I never said they would not. But what more can 
you expect of a man than his best ? It is my ability, 
not my will, that is in fault. Besides it is absurd to 
expect scholarship from this land of barbarism. In 
fine, you must agree, if you do not despise my present 
letter, to receive an account of my remaining adven- 
tures till I return to Vienna, if, indeed, I ever do return; 
but whether I shall or not, I will now end and trouble 
you no further. Farewell. 

Constantinople, June i, 1560. 



LETTER IV. 

Introduction— Great disaster of the Christians at Djerb(?— Their fleet 
surprised by Piale Pasha— Fhght of the Duke of Medina to Sicily- 
Arrival of the news at Constantinople— Exultation of the Turks — 
Unsuccessful attempt of Don Alvaro de Sandd to cut his way out, 
followed by the surrender of the garrison— Their hardships during the 
siege — Triumphal return of the victorious ileet to Constantinople— 
Solyman's demeanour— Treatment of the prisoners — Busbecq rescues 
the royal standard of Naples— Fate of the Duke of Medina's son— 
De Sandd brought before the Divan and then imprisoned in the Castle 
of the Black Sea — Busbecq's efforts to relieve the prisoners— Com- 
plaints of the ingratitude of some of them— Charity of Italian mer- 
chants—One notable exception — Rehgious scruples of the Sultan 
— He prohibits the importation of wine to Constantinople— Exemption 
of Busbecq and his household— Story of some Greeks— Busbecq's 
request to leave his house on account of the plague refused by 
Roostem, but granted by Ali, his successor— Death of Roostem— 
Busbecq's physician dies of the plague— Description of the Princes' 
Islands— Fishing there— Pinnas— Franciscan Friar— Death rate from 
the plague at Constantinople— Turkish notions of Destiny -The Metro- 
politan Metrophanes— Return to Constantinople— Characters of Ali 
Pasha and Roostem contrasted— Anecdote of Roostem— The Emperor 
presents Busbecq with the money intended for Roostem— Busbecq's 
interview with Ali— Accident of the latter— Incursion of John Basili- 
cus into Moldavia— Conversation with Ali on the subject— Imprisoned 
pilgrims released by the intervention of Lavigne, the French ambas- 
sador—His character— Story of him and Roostem— Account of the 
Goths and Tartars of the Crimea— Gothic vocabulary— Turkish pil- 
grim's account of China and of his journey thither— Extraordinary 
feats of Dervishes— Strictness of Busbecq'* imprisonment relaxed— 
His troubles in consequence of the quarrels between his servants 
and the Turks — Story given as an example — Annoyance of the 
Porte at the Treaty of Cateau Cambre'sis— Ibrahim, the first drago- 
man of the Porte, degraded from office through Lavigne^s, and restored 
to it through Busbecq's, influence— Failure of Salviati's attempt to 
procure the release of the Spanish prisoners— By Ibrahim's advice 
Busbecq intervenes and obtains their release— The Mufti's opinion 
—Continuation of the story of Bajazet— Persian ambassadors— Open 



3i6 TURKISH LETTERS. 

house kept by Pashas before Ramazan — Story of a Khodja at a 
Pasha's table — Solyman's negotiations for Bajazet's surrender — 
Strong feeling of the army in his favour — Hassan Aga and the Pasha 
of Marasch sent to the Shah, who gives leave for Bajazet's execution 
— He and his sons are executed in prison — Touching account of the 
death of the youngest at Broussa — Argument between Busbecq and 
his cavasse about predestination — Peace negotiations unfavourably 
affected by Bajazet's death — Further difficulties apprehended on 
account of the defection of some Hungarian nobles from John Sigis- 
mund to Ferdinand — Terms of peace previously settled adhered to 
notwithstanding the remonstrances of John Sigismund's ambassadors 
— The dragoman Ibrahim selected to return with Busbecq — All's pre- 
sents to Busbecq — Busbecq's farewell audience of Solyman — He 
starts on his return — At Sophia Leyva and Requesens part company 
and go to Ragusa— Pleasant journey home of Busbecq and de Sandd 
— Quarrel at Tolna between the Janissary stationed there and one of 
Busbecq's servants— Arrival at Buda after meeting Turkish fanatics 
— Arrival at Gran, Komorn, Vienna — Busbecq learns that the Em- 
peror is at the Diet at Frankfort — He proceeds thither with Ibrahim 
and is graciously received — Coronation of Maximilian— Peace rati- 
fied — Busbecq longs for home — His bad opinion of courts — His 
preference for a quiet country life — Panegyric of Ferdinand — His 
Fabian tactics against the Turks justified — His private life — Animals 
and curiosities brought back by Busbecq — Balsam— Lemnian earth 
— Coins — MSS. — Dioscorides — Conclusion. 

I MUST first acknowledge the kind and cordial manner 
in which you congratulate me on my return. Next, 
as regards your request for a narrative of my experi- 
ences during the latter part of my embassy, and for 
any pleasant stories I may have heard, I beg to 
assure your Excellency that I am fully sensible of the 
obligation I have undertaken. I have not forgotten it, 
and have no intention of defrauding so oblieino- a 
creditor as yourself. So here at your service are the 
events that followed my last letter, whether trifling, amus- 
ing, or serious. I intend, as in my other letters, to jot 
things down as they occur to me, though in this case 
I shall have to begin with a most disheartening tale. 

I had scarcely recovered from the bad news of 
Bajazet's misfortunes and imprisonment, when we were 
overwhelmed by a piece of intelligence, which was 



DJERB^ TAKEN BY THE SPANIARDS 



317 



equally unfavourable. Tidings were then expected at 
Constantinople of the result of the expedition of the 
Turkish fleet, which had been summoned to Meninx 
by the reports of the Spanish successes on that island, 
which is now called Djerb(^.^ Solyman was deeply 

' For a fuller account of the siege and capture of Gerba or Ujerbd or 
Gelves the reader is referred to Prescott's Philip II., vol. ii. book iv. 
chap. I, and Von Hammer, book xxxiii. The Spanish historians cited by 
Prescott are so conflicting that he defies the reader to reconcile them, 
but Busbecq's narrative, as far as it goes, may be considered of the 
highest authority, as no doubt it was founded on what he heard from his 
friend Don Alvaro de Sandd, who commanded the garrison. In the 
spring of f559 the Duke of Medina Cell, the Viceroy of Sicily, was 
ordered to fit out an expedition against Tripoli and its corsairs, to which 
Tuscany, Rome, Naples, Sicily, Genoa, and Malta furnished contingents. 
John Andrew Doria, nephew of the great Andrew Doria, commanded 
the Genoese forces. The fleet consisted of more than 100 sail, including 
54 galleys, and had 14,000 troops on board. The armament assembled 
at Syracuse, from which they sailed in November. They met with such 
bad weather, however, that they were forced to put into Malta, where 
they stayed more than two months refitting. So much time had now 
been lost, that they gave up the attempt on Tripoli as hopeless, and 
attacked Djerbe instead. They took it without much difficulty on 
March 14, and spent two months there fortifying it, and placed in it a 
garrison of 5,000 men, commanded by Don Alvaro de Sand^. As the 
troops were preparing to re-embark, news was brought of the approach 
of the Turkish fleet. A council of war was held, in which opinions were 
divided ; but the arrival of the Turkish fleet under the command of 
Piale, which included 86 galleys, each with 100 Janissaries on board, 
saved them the trouble of deciding (May 14). The Christians were 
seized with panic. Many of their ships were sunk, and many more sur- 
rendered. A few took refuge under the guns of the fortress. The Duke 
of Medina Cell and Doria were among those who escaped, and they took 
advantage of the darkness of the following night to fly to Sicily in a 
frigate. Next morning Pial(5 commenced the siege. After a breach had 
been made, he assaulted the fortress, but was repulsed with great loss 
and several other attacks of the Turks met with the same fate. The 
siege lasted nearly three months, although at the end of six weeks pro- 
visions and water had begun to fail. On July 31, 1560, two hours before 
dawn, Don Alvaro, accompanied by hardly 1,000 men, sallied out and 
tried to cut his way through, with the intention of seizing a vessel and 
escaping, but the attempt proved unsuccessful, and the same day the rest 
of the garrison surrendered. On September 27 the victorious fleet re- 
turned to Constantinople, as described in the text. Don Alvaro lived to 
take ample vengeance for all he had suffered. When the Spaniards 



3i8 TURKISH LETTERS. 

hurt at hearing that this island had been taken by the 
Christians, new outworks added to the citadel, and a 
garrison thrown into the place ; as master of a great 
empire in the full tide of prosperity, he felt that he 
must avenge the insult. For this reason he deter- 
mined to assist a nation which was attached to him 
by the ties of a common faith, and despatched an 
army and fleet to their assistance under the command 
of the Admiral Piale Pasha, who had manned his ships 
with a numerous body of picked soldiers. The men, 
however, were anxious, dreading the length of the 
voyage, and being cowed by the prestige which the 
enemy had acquired. The great successes gained by 
the Spanish arms both in ancient and modern times, 
had made a deep impression on the minds of the 
Turks. They remembered the Emperor Charles, and 
heard every day of his son King Philip, who had in- 
herited both the valour and the realms of his father. 
Hence great anxiety prevailed, and many, under the 
idea they were bound on a desperate service, made 
their wills before leaving Constantinople, like men con- 
vinced they were fated to return no more. Thus the 
whole city was distracted by various apprehensions, 
and everyone, whether he embarked or not, suffered 
keenly from the strain caused by the uncertainty of the 
result of the war. 

But the winds were favourable to the Turkish 
fleet ; our men were taken by surprise, and such a 
panic ensued, that they had neither the courage to 
fight nor the sense to fly ; some galleys that were 
ready for action sought safety in flight ; the remainder 

raised the siege of iVlalta in 1565 Don Alvaro, as second in command, 
again encountered his old opponent Piald. The gallant Spaniard was in 
the thick of the fighting, had a horse killed under him, and was one of 
those who contributed most to the defeat of the Turks. 



GREAT TURKISH VICTORY. 319 



ran aground, and were either miserably wrecked on 
the shoals, or surrounded and taken by the enemy. 
The Duke of Medina, the commander of the ex- 
pedition, retreated into the citadel with John Andrew 
Doria, the admiral. Favoured by the darkness, they 
embarked early in the night in a small boat, and boldly 
steering through the enemy's blockading squadron, 
reached Sicily in safety. 

Piale^ sent a galley here with news of this victory, 
and, to proclaim more openly the tidings she brought, 
she trailed in the water from her stern a large flag, on 
which, according to the account the Turks^gaver'was 
embroidered a representation of our Saviour Christ on 
the Cross. When she entered the harbour, the report 
of the Christian defeat ran through the whole city, 
and the Turks began congratulating each other on 
their great success. They gathered in crowds at my 
door, and asked my men in mockery, had they any 
brother, kinsman, or relation in the Spanish fleet 1 'If 
so,'^ said they, 'you will soon have the pleasure of 
seeing them.' They were loud moreover in extolling 
the valour of their people, and expressing their scorn 
at the cowardice of the Christians. 'What power' 
they asked, ' had we left that could resist them, now 
that the Spaniard was vanquished ) ' 

My men were obliged to listen to these speeches to 
their great sorrow, but they had to bear them, as God 
had so ordered it, and it could not be changed. One 
thought alone sustained us, the hope that the defence 
of the citadel, which the Spaniards still held with a 
strong garrison, could be made good, till winter or 
some accident should compel the enemy to raise the 
siege. We had not much hope, however, as we knew 
that success was far more likely to attend the victors 
than the vanquished, and so indeed it proved, for the 



320 TURKISH LETTERS. 



besieged being hard pressed and in great want of 
everything, especially water, at last surrendered the 
citadel and themselves. 

Don Alvaro de Sand6, who commanded the troops, 
a man of great courage and reputation, when he saw 
they could hold out no longer, attempted to sally out 
of the citadel with a few attendants, and seize a small 
ship, and so cross to Sicily ; hoping thus to save the 
high character he had earned as a soldier from the 
disgrace which accompanies a surrender, however un- 
avoidable ; for he v/as determined that, whoever might 
have to bear the responsibility, it should not rest on 
his shoulders. 

llic result of his attempt was that the citadel fell 
into the hands of the enemy, for the soldiers opened 
the gates, which they could no longer defend, in the 
hope of appeasing the enemy by a voluntary sur- 
render. Don Juan de Castella refused to leave the 
outwork entrusted to his charge, but fought against 
the enemy with his brother at his side, till he was 
wounded at last, and taken prisoner. 

The citadel had been defended by the Spaniards 
with great resolution for more than three months, 
though almost every necessary, and — worst of all — even 
the hope of relief, had failed them. In that burning 
climate nothing was more trying to the troops than 
the want of water. There was only one reservoir, 
and though it was large and well supplied with water, 
it was not sufficient for such a number. Accord- 
ingly a fixed allowance was distributed to each man, 
just sufficient to sustain life. Many eked out their 
ration by adding sea-water, which had been purified 
of most of its salt by distillation. This expedient had 
been imparted to them, when they had sore need of it, 
by a skilful alchemist ; however, it was not everyone 



EMRY OF THE VICTORIOUS FLEET. 



321 



that had the necessary apparatus, so that many were 
to be seen stretched on the ground at the point of 
death with their mouths gaping, and continually re- 
peatmg the one word 'water.' If anyone had com- 
passion on them and poured a httle water into their 
mouths, they would get up and raise themselves to a 
sitting posture, till, when the good effect of the draught 
was exhausted, they would fall back on the same spot 
and at last expire of thirst. Accordingly, besides those 
who were slain, and those who died from sickness and 
the want of medical attendance on that desolate spot 
numbers perished in the manner I have described from 
want of water. 

In the month of September the victorious fleet re- 
turned to Constantinople, bringing with it the prisoners 
the spoils, and the galleys they had taken from our 
people, a sight as joyful for the eyes of the Turks as 
It was grievous and lamentable for us. 

That night the fleet anchored off" some rocks near 
Constantinople, as they did not wish to enter the har- 
bour till morning, when the spectacle would be more 
striking, and there would be a greater crowd of spec 
tators. Solyman had gone down to the colonnade 
close to the mouth of the harbour, which forms part of 
his gardens, that he might have a nearer view of his 
fleet as it entered, and also of the Christian officers 
who were exhibited on the deck. On the poop of the 
admiral s galley were Don Alvaro de Sandd and the 
commanders of the Sicilian and Neapolitan galleys 
Don Berenguer de Requesens and Don Sancho de 
Leyva. The captured galleys had been stripped of 
their oars and upper works and reduced to mere hulks 
in which condition they were towed along ; and thus 
made to appear small, ugly, and contemptible com- 
pared with those of the Turks. 

VOL. I. y 



322 TURKISH LETTERS. 

Those who saw Solyman's face in this hour of 
triumph failed to detect in it the shghtest trace of 
undue elation. I can myself positively declare, that 
when I saw him two days later on his way to the 
mosque, the expression of his countenance was un- 
changed : his stern features had lost nothing^ of their 
habitual gloom ; one would have thought that the vic- 
tory concerned him not, and that this startling success 
of his arms had caused him no surprise. So self-con- 
tained was the heart of that grand old man, so schooled 
to meet each change of Fortune however great, that 
all the applause and triumph of that day wrung from 
him no sign of satisfaction. 

A few days afterwards the prisoners were con- 
ducted to the Palace. The poor fellows were half 
dead from the privations they had undergone. The 
greater part could scarcely stand on their feet ; many 
fell down from weakness and fainted ; some were 
actually dying. They were insulted and hustled on 
the way, and compelled to wear their armour with the 
front turned to the back like so many scarecrows. 

Around them were heard the voices of the Turks, 
who taunted them, and promised themselves the do- 
minion of the world. For now that the Spaniard had 
been conquered, they said, what enemy was left that 
could be feared ? 

There was in that expedition a Turkish officer of 
the highest rank, with whom I was acquainted. The 
first or royal standard of the Neapolitan galleys, bear- 
ing the arms of all the provinces of the Kings of Spain 
quartered with the Imperial Eagle, had fallen into his 
hands. When I heard that he meant to present it to 
Solyman, I determined to make an effort to antici- 
pate him and get possession of it. The matter was 
easily arranged by my sending him a present of two 



RESCUE OF THE STANDARD. 323 



silk dresses. Thus I prevented the glorious coat-of- 
arms of Charles V. from remaining with the enemy as 
a perpetual memorial of that defeat. 

Besides the officers I have mentioned, there were 
among the prisoners two gentlemen of high birth, 
namely, Don Juan de Cardona, the son-in-law of Don 
Berenguer, and Don Gaston, the son of the Duke of 
Medina ; the latter, though hardly yet arrived at man- 
hood, had held a high post in his father's army. Don 
Juan had cleverly managed, by promising a large sum, 
to get himself left at Chios, which is still occupied by 
its ancient Genoese inhabitants.^ Piale had concealed 

' Chios was first brought under the immediate dominion of the Sultan 
by Pial($. Pasha in 1566, though it had previously acknowledged his 
suzerainty and paid tribute. It had been conquered by the Genoese 
admiral, Simon Vignoso, in 1346. The form of government was so 
peculiar as to deserve some notice. It is the first example of the territorial 
administration of a mercantile company of shareholders exercising in a 
distant country all the duties of a sovereign. Of this form of govern- 
ment the East India Company is the best known specimen. The Genoese 
treasury in 1346 was so exhausted that the funds for fitting out the twenty- 
nine galleys of Vignoso's fleet were raised by private citizens, who sub- 
scribed the money in shares. The Republic promised to secure them 
against all loss, and pledged a portion of its annual revenue to pay the 
interest. After the conquest of Chios, Vignoso, in virtue of the full 
powers with which he was invested, established a committee of the sub- 
scribers, who administered the Government of Chios, and collected the 
revenues under the sovereignty of the Republic of Genoa. The con- 
tributors had formed themselves into a joint-stock company, according 
to the established usage at Genoa ; and this society or maona assumed 
the name of the Maona of Scio. The Republic being unable to repay 
the advances, a convention was concluded between the State and the 
Maona, by which the shareholders were recognised as the lawful pro- 
prietors and administrators of Chios, subject to the terms on which the 
Greek population had capitulated, f>)r a term of twenty years, during 
which the Republic reserved the right of resuming possession of the 
island on repayment of the sum advanced. This, however, the Republic 
was never able to do, so the arrangement became permanent. The 
greater part of the shares passed into the hands of the family, or, more 
correctly speaking, the firm of the Justiniani, and the Joint-Stock Com- 
pany of Scio was generally called the Maona of the Justiniani. For 
furth er details as to the Government of Scio while held by this company, 
. Y 2 



3 24 TURKISH LETTERS. 

Gaston in hopes of getting a great price for his ransom. 
But this trick proved well nigh fatal to its contriver. 
For Solyman, having by some means or other got wind 
of it, was extremely displeased, and at Roostem's in- 
stigation made diligent search for Gaston's hiding-place, 
intending to produce him in evidence of Piale's guilt, 
and thereby justify the execution of the latter.^ But 
the plan failed through Gaston's death. Some believe 
he died of the plague, but it is more probable that 
Pial6 had him murdered, for fear of anything transpir- 
ing against himself At any rate, he could not be 
traced, though the agents of his father, the Duke of 
Medina, spared no pains to find him. One may well 
suspect that Pial6 had no scruple in securing his own 
safety by the murder of Gaston. Notwithstanding, he 
lived a long time in great fear, and avoiding Constan- 
tinople, on various pretexts kept coasting about the 
islands of the y^gean with a few galleys. He was 
afraid to come into the presence of his offended master, 
feeling sure that he would be forthwith manacled, tried, 
and condemned. At last Solyman was softened by 
the entreaties of the chief of the eunuchs of his bed- 
chamber, and of his son Selim, and gave him his royal 
pardon, the very words of which I am glad to be able 
to repeat. ' As far as I am concerned let him enjoy 
pardon and impunity for his terrible crime ; but after 

see Finlay, History of Greece, vol. v. ch. ii., from which this note is taken. 
It must, however, be added that the Government of the company, not- 
withstanding its defects, was for a long period the least oppressive in the 
Levant. 

1 Petremol, the French charg^ d'affaires, mentions some Spanish 
slaves being brought to Constantinople from Chios. The Sultan, it was 
said, did not intend to keep them in servitude, but wished to see whether 
Roostem's contention was true, namely, that Pial^ had stolen all the 
prisoners of high rank, and had presented to the Sultan, under the names 
of the different officers, common soldiers who could pay no ransom. 
Charrifere, Ni^gotiations de la France dans le Levant, ii. 671. 



DE SAND& BEFORE THE DIVAN. 325 

this life may God, that most just avenger of evil deeds, 
inflict on him the punishment he deserves.' So rooted 
is his conviction, that no evil deed ought to go 
unpunished. 

Fortune was more favourable to Don Juan de 
Cardona. Luckily for him his amiable sister is the 
wife of a distinguished Austrian Baron, Adam von 
Dietrichstein,^ who, after a great deal of trouble, got 
him sent back to Spain, on my becoming surety for 
his ransom. 

When de Sand6 was brought into the Divan, or 
Assembly of the Pashas, and Roostem asked him, 
' What had put it into his master's head to attack the 
territories of others when he could not defend his 
own ? ' he replied, ' This was no matter for him to 
decide ; his duty was to be faithful in executing his 
master's orders to the utmost of his ability. He had 
done his best and had been unfortunate.' Then kneel- 
ing down he entreated the Pashas to intercede with 
Solyman for his life, saying, that he had a wife and 
a young family at home, and he entreated them to 
spare his life for their sake. Roostem replied, ' His 
Emperor was of a clement disposition, and he had 
good hopes of obtaining mercy for him.' 

^ Adam von Dietrichstein was born in 1527. He accompanied Maxi- < 
milian on his journey to Spain, when he went to marry his cousin, the 
Infanta Maria. In 1561 he was sent by Maximilian to the Pope as ambas- 
sador. Maximilian appointed him his High Chamberlain in 1563, and 
sent him to conduct his sons to Spain as head of their household. Bus- 
becq therefore served under him on this mission (see page 61 ). About 
the same time Ferdinand appointed him his ambassador to Spain, and 
after Ferdinand's death he remained there as Maximilian's representative. 
In this post he had the delicate task of kf-eping the bigoted Philip and 
the tolerant Maximilian on friendly terms. In 1 573 he escorted the Arch- 
dukes home, and was appointed Privy Councillor and Governor of Ro- 
dolph's household. He died in 1 590, and was buried at Prague, at the feet 
of his master Maximilian. He married in 1555 Margaret, daughter of 
Don Antonio de Cardona. 



326 TURKISH LETTERS. 

So de Sande was ordered to be taken to the for- 
tress they call Caradenis, which means ' of the Black 
Sea,' but he had not gone far when he was recalled. 
The only reason for his being sent for again was, that 
the chief of the bedchamber eunuchs, whom I men- 
tioned before, and who has great influence with the 
Sultan, had not yet seen him, and wished to do so. It 
was noticed that as he came back his nerves, usually 
so strong, appeared to be shaken, and he seemed to be 
afraid that the Pashas had altered their decision, and 
were bringing him back for execution. 

The other prisoners of importance were confined 
in the Tower of Pera, or Galata, as it is sometimes 
called. Among them were Don Sancho de Leyva, with 
his two bastard sons, and also Don Berenguer. 

After I had been informed of their condition and 
the great privations they were undergoing, I felt it my 
duty to come to their relief I therefore sent visitors 
to express my sympathy, and assure them of my readi- 
ness to give them such assistance as lay in my power. 
From that time my house was the general rendezvous 
of all the prisoners, nor was I ever backward in giving 
them help as far as my means allowed. 

The Turks consider they have made ample pro- 
vision for their prisoners, if they have bread and water 
•enough. As to what the age of each prisoner, his 
habits and state of healt'-', or the season of the year 
may demand, they take no account, and treat all in the 
same way, whether they are sick or well or just re- 
covering from illness, strong or delicate, old or youno-. 
I had, therefore, a wide field for the exercise of my 
charity, inasmuch as each case required special treat- 
ment. A great multitude of the sick were lying in a 
mosque in Pera, the town situated opposite Byzantium, 
immediately across the bay. About them the Turks did 



FEEDING 2'HE FJilSONERS. 327 

not think it worth while to take any more trouble, indeed 
they considered them as good as dead. Many of them 
died from want of proper nourishment, either during 
the illness itself or during convalescence ; for they had 
no bowl of soup or dainty dish to tempt their feeble 
appetite, and thus enable them gradually to regain their 
strength. Being informed of this, I commissioned a 
citizen of Pera, who was a friend of mine, to buy 
some sheep every day, boil them at home, and divide 
them among the prisoners, giving meat to some and 
broth to others, as each man's case happened to require, 
and this was of service to not a few. This I did for 
the sick ; those who were well required help of another 
kind. 

My house from early morning till evening was 
filled with a crowd of those who sought assistance for 
their different troubles. Some, who had been accus- 
tomed to sumptuous tables, could not digest their daily 
ration of dry black bread, and required the means of 
procuring some relish to eat with it. There were 
others whose stomachs could not endure perpetual 
water-drinking, and wanted a little wine to mix with it. 
Some needed blankets, as they had nothing but the 
bare ground to sleep on, and therefore suffered from 
cold at night ; one was in want of a cloak, another of 
shoes. The most numerous requests were for the 
means wherewith to fee their jailers, and thus render 
them more merciful. 

To cure all these troubles money was the only 
remedy, so that a day never passed without several 
pieces of gold being thus expended. 

But this evil was endurable and not fatal ; another 
and a more ruinous one was impending from the 
persons who demanded that larger sums should be 
lent them, or wanted me to be surety for the amount 



32 8 TURKISH LETTERS. 



of their ransom. None of them lacked some plausible 
pretext for puffing himself off, and maintaining that his 
own case had the best claim on my bounty. One put 
forward his high rank and his powerful relations or 
connections, another his long service and his captain's 
commission, a third his great wealth at home and his 
ability to pay the debt without delay. Some too 
boasted of their own valour, and their glorious exploits 
in war. All, in a word, thought they had a fair claim 
for assistance on some ground or other. If a question 
was asked as to their credit and whether they would 
remember to pay, they told me to make myself per- 
fectly easy ; for what, said they, could be more unjust 
than to involve the man who had done them this great 
service in pecuniary difficulties and losses, when they 
owed to him their freedom and their lives, and had 
been rescued by him as it were from the very jaws of 
death ? 

And indeed it was most grievous for me to hear, 
' Unless I have this moment in ready money two 
hundred pieces of gold, it is all over with me ; I shall 
be taken over into Asia, or sent I know not whither 
as a galley-slave, 1 without any hope of ever recovering 
my freedom or seeing my home again. There is a 
merchant, who will not refuse to supply goods sufficient 
to raise the sum, if you will only go security.' Such 
statements were the only warranty they generally gave 
me ; but I could not help being influenced by them 
when I reflected that what they said was true. Unless 
they were assisted, a large part of them must inevitably 
perish by various calamities, and there was no one on 

' In Wervicq Church, about a mile from Busbecq's home, stands a 
hfe-size figure of a galley-slave, with this inscription: 'Vrais Chretiens 
soyez touches de coeur k faire charity aux esclaves Chretiens.' "xhe utter' 
hopeless misery there depicted illustrates the force of this appeal ' 



RANSOMING PRISONERS. 329 



the spot, who had greater means of helping them than 
myself, or on whom they had a stronger claim. 

But you will say against me, I know, ' No one is to 
be trusted ; ' but who in the world could suppose that 
anyone would be such a monster of ingratitude as not 
to repay the money, which had been advanced to save 
his life ? Suppose one or two lacked, not the will, but 
the means. Well, I must risk it, and after all what 
is spent in doing a good turn to a good man is never 
really lost. The majority at any rate will act honestly. 

I was induced by such considerations to pledge my 
credit for many thousand crowns, and to plunge myself 
into such a deep abyss, that I do not know how I am 
to get out of it ; indeed I am afraid that in getting 
them out of prison I have got myself into it. I have 
been explicit on this subject, as I wish to clear myself 
of blame for want of judgment in being too ready to 
lend. I must admit that the neglect to repay in cer- 
tain cases has made me suspect that I shall not get 
out of the business without heavy loss. Nay, I have 
been already obliged to pay the money for which I 
went security for some of them, and I remember that 
remarks of certain among them came to my ears, who, 
though they had been saved by my good offices, yet 
made a joke of my extreme readiness in complying 
with their requests, and dubbed me for my pains a 
scatter-brained fool. From this I can gather how some 
of them will treat their obligations. But all this is in 
God's hands. However it may turn out, I do not see 
why I should regret having done a kindness to many. 

Ipsa sibi virtus semper pulcherrima merces. 

I look for no extraordinary recompense for myself, 
and wish no honours, no statue voted me. All I ask 
is, that they should carry their gratitude so far as to 



330 TURKISH LETTERS. 



repay honestly what I have spent to save their hves. 
I do not despair of this from so gallant a nation as the 
Spaniards. 

I am glad to say that I not only did my part in 
contributing, but also by my example was the means 
of inducing many others to come forward and give 
valuable assistance. There are among the citizens and 
residents of Pera many Italian merchants, and these 
displayed extraordinary zeal in assisting the prisoners. 
There was, however, one exception, and I shall never 
forget his reasoning on the matter, it was so absurd. 
He was an Italian Greek, i.e., both in birth and man- 
ners half Greek and half Italian. When all his coun- 
trymen were doing their utmost to forward the good 
work, he never could be induced to spend a farthing 
on any of the prisoners. When he was accused on 
that score, he defended himself thus, in broken and 
barbarous Italian, for Greek was more familiar to him. 
' I do not know what sort of people these are, but I 
can easily guess they have not been brought into this 
misery except by the just judgment of God. I will 
not run counter to the Divine Will ; as far as I am 
concerned, let them stay in the place where God has 
chosen them to be. I shall not be surprised if you, 
who so daringly come between them and the decrees 
of Providence, have reason to repent of it hereafter. 
No one shall persuade me to lay out on them as much 
as a single penny.' Such was his view of the matter. 
So much for this foolish prognosticator. 

This naval defeat of the Christians, coupled with 
Bajazet's disaster, caused me great anxiety ; I was 
afraid that I should find the Turks elated by success, 
and consequently more exacting in my negotiations for 
peace. Besides the public misfortunes, I also sus- 
tained a personal loss; the plague invaded my house. 



SUPERSTITIONS OF THE SUITAN. 33 e 



carrying off one of my most faithful servants, and 
causing a panic among the other members of my 
household. 

Of this I will speak a little later, when I have 
mentioned another trouble that befell us, which, though 
less than the former, caused me considerable anxiety. 
The Sultan is becoming every day more scrupulous in 
religious matters, or in other words, more superstitious. 
He used to enjoy hearing a choir of boys, who sang to 
the accompaniment of stringed instruments. But all 
this has been done away with by the interposition of 
some old hag, renowned for her profession of sanctity, 
who threatened him with heavy punishments hereafter 
if he did not give up this amusement. Alarmed by 
her denunciations, he broke up all his musical instru- 
ments and threw them into the fire, though they 
were of excellent workmanship, and adorned with gold 
and jewels. 

Some one found such fault with him for eating off 
silver plate, that he has used nothing but earthenware 
ever since. 

Then some one appeared who blamed the Sultan for 
allowing wine to be used so freely in the city, and so 
made him feel conscientious scruples at neglecting Ma- 
homet's directions on this head. Therefore procla- 
mation was made that thenceforth no wine should be 
imported into Constantinople, not even for the Chris- 
tians or the Jews. This proclamation concerned me 
and mine not a little, as we were by no means accus- 
tomed to drinking water. For where could we get 
wine, if it was not allowed to enter the walls of the 
city ? Long home-sickness and the continued uncer- 
tainty about the result of our negotiations had already 
told upon our strength, and this compulsory change in 
our diet was, in consequence, likely to be very pre- 



33^ TURKISH LETTERS. 



judicial to our health. I commissioned my interpreters 
to make strong representations to the Pashas in the 
Divan, and to maintain our ancient privileges. There 
opinions were divided. Some thought we ought to be 
content with drinking water, for what would the neigh- 
bourhood say, demurred they, if they saw we had wine 
brought into our house ? Why, that while they were 
strictly forbidden its use, Christians in the midst of 
Constantinople were swilling away to their hearts' 
content, and polluting the city far and wide with the 
fumes of their liquor. Nay, even Mussulmans who 
came to me went away reeking with wine. These 
considerations proved well nigh fatal to our suit. How- 
ever, the opinion of the Pashas who took special charge 
of our interests, finally prevailed. They declared that 
we were not able to stand such a change of diet, and 
warned the Divan that sickness and death would in 
many cases be the consequence. The end of it was, 
that we were allowed the choice of one night, on which 
we might have as much wine as we wished conveyed 
to the sea-gate, this being the most convenient point 
for us. There we had carts and horses to meet it, and 
bring it into the house with as little noise as possible, 
and so we retained our rights. 

Some members of the Greek nation did not fail to 
put the Sultan to the test in the following fashion. 
Having ascertained that he was about to pass through 
a district which was planted with numerous vineyards, 
they assembled in great numbers, and began tearino- 
up the vines by the roots. Some of them commenced to 
block the road with the vine stocks, and others to load 
carts with them. When the Sultan came to the place, 
he stopped, wondering what the matter could be, and 
calling to him the nearest of the men, inquired what 
they were about. They answered, that as by his pro- 



THE PLAGUE IN BUSBECQS HOUSE. Z2>Z 



clamation they were forbidden to drink wine, they 
were rooting up the vines for firewood, as they would 
be useless for the future. Then Solyman replied, ' You 
are wrong, and have not understood my intentions, as 
you ought to have done. If I enjoined abstinence 
from wine, I did not therefore prevent anyone's eatino- 
grapes. Grapes are to be reckoned among the most 
excellent of the fruits which God has granted to man. 
There is nothing to hinder you from enjoying their 
juice while fresh, so long as you do not put it up in 
casks, and turn it to a wrong use by )our pernicious 
art. Do you think pear-trees and apple-trees ought 
to be rooted up because they do not produce wine ? 
Leave off, you fools, and spare the vines, which will 
bear you excellent fruit' Thus the Greeks took 
nothing by their scheme. 

I now return to the plague, which, as I told you, 
had attacked our house. When it broke out, I sent to 
Roostem to ask for permission to remove to some 
place that was free from infection. I did so with hesi- 
tation, as I was acquainted with his character ; still I 
could not incur the imputation of neglecting my own 
health and that of my servants. Roostem answered, he 
would lay my request before the Sultan, and the next 
day sent me back word that his master had made this 
reply : ' What did I mean, or where did I think of fly- 
ing ? did I not know that pestilence is God's arrow 
which never misses its mark ? where in the world 
could I hide myself, so as to be shielded from the 
stroke of His weapons ? If He ordained that the pes- 
tilence should strike me, neither flight nor concealment 
would be of any avail. To try to escape from the in- 
evitable was a vain attempt. His own palace was not 
at that very moment free from the plague, but never- 
theless he stayed there, and it was likewise my duty to 



334 TUFKISH LETTERS. 



remain where I was.' Thus I was obliged to await my 
doom in that plague-stricken house. 

But not long afterwards it came to pass that Roos- 
tem was carried off by an attack of dropsy.^ He was 
succeeded by Ali, who was then the second of the 
Vizieral Pashas, the most courteous and sagacious 
statesman I ever met among the Turks.'^ When I sent 
him a valuable silken robe with my congratulations on 
his promotion, I received a gracious reply, for he asked 
me to treat him as a friend on every occasion, and not 
to hesitate to apply to him if necessary, and indeed he 
was as good as his word. 

The first occasion on which I experienced his kind- 
ness was, when the plague broke out afresh in my 
house, and, besides attacking other members of my 
household, carried off the excellent gentleman, who, 
under God, had been our chief support in time of sick- 
ness. I sent to Ali Pasha to ask the same permission 
I had formerly asked of Roostem. He replied that 
he could give me leave to go where I pleased, but it 
would be more prudent to ask that of the Sultan as 
well, for fear that if he should happen to fall in with 
my men going about at large, he should be angry at 
my being outside my lodgings without his know- 
ledge. Everything, he said, depended on the Avay in 
which a matter was brought to the Sultan's notice, 
and that he would lay the subject before him in such 
a manner as to leave no doubt of his assent. Soon 
afterwards he informed me that I had permission to go 
wherever I thought proper. 

The island they call Prinkipo ^ appeared to be the 
most convenient place for my retirement. It is four 

1 July 8, 1561. - Seepage 157. 

=" One of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmora, where the British 
Fleet was stationed during the spring of 1878. 



Ji TNESS AND DEATH OF QUACQUELBEN. 335 



hours' sail from the city, and is the most agreeable of 
the numerous little islands which are in the neighbour- 
hood of Constantinople, for the others have only one 
village or none at all, but this has two. 

As to what I said, that the person on whose skill 
we had chiefly relied had been taken away from us by 
death, this was none other than my most excellent and 
faithful companion during my long sojourn abroad, our 
doctor, William Ouacquelben. 

I had ransomed a man, who (though I did not know 
it at the time), proved to be stricken with the plague. 
While William was endeavouring to treat him for the 
disease, being not sufficiently careful of himself, he got 
infected with the plague poison. On this point he 
did not agree with the rest of his profession, but de- 
clared that, when the plague was rife there was more 
panic than real danger ; his opinion being that, at such 
times there is about the average amount of different 
kinds of illness, and that people are then so nervous, 
that they think most of them are the plague, and that 
consequently every sort of ulcer or pimple is then 
regarded as a plague boil, and treated accordingly. 
And so, although he was already sickening of the 
plague, he never suspected what was the matter with 
him, until the sickness, which had been increased by 
his concealing it, broke out with violent paroxysms. 
He all but died in the hands of those who ran to 
support him, and not even then could he be induced 
to believe it was an attack of the plague. W^hen I 
sent, the day before he died, to make inquiries, he 
replied he was better, and asked me to come to him, 
if I could spare the time. I sat with him a long time, 
and he told me how very ill he had been. All his 
senses, he said, and especially his sight, had been so 
impaired that he could recognise no one. He was 



ZZ(> TURKISH LETTERS 



now better in this respect and had the command of 
all of them ; the phlegm only continued, which in- 
terfered with his breathing, and if this were relieved 
he would be well at once. As I was leaving him, 
I said, I heard he had some sort of abscess on his 
breast. He admitted that such was the case, and 
throwing back the bed-clothes showed it me, saying, 
there was nothing bad about it, he had got it from the 
knots of a new doublet he had put on, which was 
too tight. 

In the evening, according to the rules of my house, 
two of my servants went to attend him for the night, 
and were preparing to change his shirt. When he 
was stripped, he noticed on his body a purple spot which 
they said was a flea-bite, and then he saw more and 
bigger ones. 'These are no flea-bites,' said he, 'but 
messengers to tell me my death is near. Let us there- 
fore profit by this warning.' From that moment he 
devoted the whole of the night to prayer, pious medi - 
tation, and listening to the Scriptures being read, 
until as morning broke, he departed this life with full 
assurance of God's mercy.^ 

Thus I lost a very dear friend and excellent fellow- 
worker, while the loss to the literary world was not less 
than mine. He had seen, learnt, and taken note of 
many things, and intended sooner or later to publish 
the results of his observations, but death cut short the 
work he had so admirably planned. So highly did I 
appreciate his loyalty and his tact, that, if the state of 
my negotiations had permitted, and I had been granted 
permission to return, I should not have hesitated to 
leave him as my deputy at Constantinople. From that 
time it appeared as if my labours were doubled, and 

1 We have here a good description of a serious attack of the plague. 
Compare pages 163-4. 



THE PRINCES' ISLANDS. 337 



now that I have returned home, I seem to have left a 
portion of myself behind in my dear friend's grave at 
Constantinople. May peace be with his blessed spirit ! 
His virtues are recorded on the monument, which I 
erected to his memory. 

But to return to my islands, ' on which I lived very 
pleasandy for three months. I enjoyed the greatest 
privacy, there was neither crowd nor noise. There 
were a i(t\Y Greeks on the island in whose houses we 
lodged, but there was no Turk to act the jailer and 
dog my footsteps when I wanted to amuse myself; 
for the Turkish servants, to whom I had grown accus- 
tomed, did not interfere with me, and I was allowed 
to wander freely where I would, and to coast about the 
numerous islands as I pleased. 

Every place there is full of plants of different sorts, 
cottonweed, narrow-leaved myrtle, knapweed, and 
many others. The sea abounds with fish of every 
kind, which I caught sometimes with a hook and some- 
times with a net. Boats were to be had with Greek 
fishermen, whom we employed to help us. 

I used to cross to any spot that presented an 
agreeable view, or held out good hopes of sport. 
Sometimes, where the water was clear and shallow, I 
took a fancy to carry on open warfare by spearing with 
a trident a crab or a lobster as he scuttled along, and 
so pulling him into the boat. But the mode of fi'^hing, 
which was at once the most pleasant and the most 
profitable, was that with a seine or drag-net. 

I had a place, which the fishermen thought likely, 
surrounded with a drag-net, and, by making use not only 
of the net itself but also of the long ropes with which 

> Busbecq went there in the beginning of August 1561 He was 

accompanied by a cavasse, and twenty Janissaries as a guard Charrifere 

Negotiations de la France dans le Levant, ii. 668-9. ' 

VOL. I. Z 



338 TURKISH LETTERS. 



its two ends were dragged ashore, we managed to en- 
close a very considerable space. Round these ropes 
the sailors twined a quantity of green boughs to scare the 
fish and prevent their escaping into deep water. So, 
when the ends of the net on eilher side were drawn to 
land, the fish were driven into a narrow space ; they 
then began to get frightened and did their best to 
escape, each following its natur^d instinct. Some tried 
to avoid the danger by a bold leap over the net. 
Others, on the contrary, by burrowing in the sand en- 
deavoured to save themselves from being entangled. 
Some tried to gnaw through the meshes, though they 
were made of very coarse twine ; these were mostly 
of the shark tribe, which are armed with powerful 
teeth. These creatures have such instinct that when 
they have bitten away twine enough to open a pas- 
sage for one, the whole shoal follows where the first 
has got out, and leaves not one for the fisherman. As 
I was afraid of this trick, of which I had been warned 
beforehand, I stood in the bows holding a pole with 
which I kept striking their noses as they gnawed at 
the net, much to the amusement of my attendants. My 
efforts were rewarded with only partial success ; a few 
were caught, but a great many got away. So you see 
that even a fish, when hard put to it, can turn cunning. 
However, we took plenty of other fish to console us 
for the loss of some of the sharks — such as sea bream, 
sea scorpions, weavers, char, rock-fish, and ruffs. Their 
variety made them a pretty sight, and I greatly enjoyed 
making out their names and habits. So at night I 
returned to my camp with my bark wreathed with 
laurels, and laden with booty and prisoners. The next 
day I shared my spoils with Ali Pasha and his major- 
domo, who returned me their grateful thanks, and said 
the present was very acceptable. 



PINNAS AND PINNA-GUARDS. 339 



I sometimes took a fancy to capture pinnas, for 
which I used a pole and iron contrivance made for the 
purpose, with which I pulled them up from the bottom. 
They are very plentiful in that sea, so much so that 
they seem to have been artificially laid down. I found 
in them the pinna-guards, celebrated by Cicero, Pliny, 
and Athenseus, which were usually in pairs, a male and 
a female, but sometimes in larger numbers. I am 
afraid, however, that the other statements made about 
them by the above authors are not altogether to be 
trusted. That they are interesting, I admit ; the ques- 
tion is, are they based on fact. They relate that the 
pinna with its shells wide open lies in wait for tiny 
fishes, but that, as it is a blind and senseless lump of 
flesh, it would not know when they are inside its for- 
talice, if it were not warned by a bite from the pinna- 
guard ; then it closes its shells, and shares with the 
pinna-guard the fishes that are shut in. For the shape 
of the pinna, you may consult Belon.^ It fixes the 
sharper of its two ends into the bottom of the sea, and 
fastens itself by a tuft of hair or thread, so firmly, that 
one might think it was planted there. By these threads 
it sucks up its nutriment, which is clearly proved from 
the fact that, if torn up from its place, it dies from 
want of nourishment, like vegetables and plants when 
severed from their roots. But it is probable the pinna- 
guard chooses this home in order to have a strong 
defence against the violence of ravenous fishes and a 
quiet haven when the sea is boisterous, from which it 

' These references are to Cicero, De NaturA Deorum, ii. cap. 48, and 
DeFinibus, iii. cap. 19 ; Pliny, Natural History, ix. cap. 66, and Atheliceus, 
iii. p. 93. For descriptions and figures of the pinna and pinnophylax or 
pea-crab, see Wood's Natural History, pages 422 and 588. They are 
frequently found in the shells of bivalves. The real reason for this habit 
is not certainly known. For an account of Belon, see note, page 140. 

z 2 



340 TURKISH LETTERS. 



can sally out when it likes, and retreat again in safety. 
I should not, however, wish in saying this to be sus- 
pected of intending to detract at all from the authority 
of such great men ; my object is simply to draw the 
attention of others to the subject in the hope of its 
being investigated more thoroughly.^ We used to have 
no difficulty in filling our boat with pinnas ; they are 
not good eating, and you would soon get tired of them, 
being coarse and tasting like mussels. But the fisher- 
man told us to pick out the pinna-guards, of which a 
dish was made, that was alike agreeable to the palate 
and wholesome for the stomach. 

Among the rest there is a small island, which is 
uninhabited. Close to it I recollect capturing mon- 
strous and extraordinary creatures, such as starfishes, 
razorshells, clusters of cuttlefish eggs, sea-horses, enor- 
mous snails, and some yellow balls like oranges, but 
no fishes, except one skate or sting-ray, which is capa- 
ble of inflicting a serious wound with its sting. It 
tried to strike us, and in so doing impaled itself and 
was caught. 

When the weather kept us from the sea, I amused 
myself on shore in looking for rare and new plants. 
Sometimes by way of exercise, I walked round the 
island, dragging with me a Franciscan friar, a capital 
young fellow, but, though young, very fat and unac- 
customed to exertion. He had gone with me as a 
companion from the monastery at Pera. One day, as 
I was walking fast to warm myself, he followed me 
with difficulty, pufiing and blowing, ' What need is 
there,' he would cry, ' for such a hurry ? We are not 
running for our lives or chasing anybody ! Are we 
postmen charged with letters of importance ? ' This 
went on till the sweat broke out in his back through 

' This passage illustrates the statement in the Life, pages So, 51. 



THE METROPOLITAN METROPHANES. 341 



his clothes in a great round patch. When we returned 
to our lodging, he made the house echo with his groans 
and lamentations, and threw himself on his bed, crying 
out he was done for. 'What harm,' he exclaimed, 
' have I ever done you that you should try to kill me 
before my time ? ' And it was only by dint of much 
pressing that we could induce him to come to supper. 

Occasionally friends from Constantinople and Pera 
and some Germans of Ali's household paid us a visit. 
When I asked them ' Whether the plague was abat- 
ing?' one of them replied, 'Yes, in a marked degree.' 
' What is the daily death rate then ? ' quoth I, ' About 
five hundred,' said he. ' Good God,' I exclaimed, ' do 
you call this the plague abating 1 How many used to 
die when it was at its height .? ' ' About a thousand 
or twelve hundred,' he answered. 

The Turks imagine that the time and manner of 
each man's death is inscribed by God on his forehead, 
and that therefore they have no power of avoidino- the 
fatal hour, and that till that time there is no need for 
fear. This belief renders them indifferent to the 
dangers of the plague, but does not secure them against 
its attacks. And so they handle the clothes and 
sheets in which plague-stricken people have expired, 
while they are still reeking with their death-sweat, and 
even rub their faces with them. ' If God,' say they, ' has 
decreed that I shall die thus, it must happen ; if not, 
it cannot injure me.' This of course is just the way 
to spread contagion, and sometimes whole households 
perish to a man. 

While I lived in the islands I made friends with 
the Metropolitan! Metrophanes, who was abbot of a 

' In ancient times, and now in the English Church, the title of Metro 
pohtan (Archbishop) was confined to the chief bishop of a province • but 
in the Greek Church at the present day the title is given to many ordinary 
bishops. 



342 TURKISH LETTERS. . 

monastery in Chalcis, one of the islands, a polite and 
well-educated man, who was very anxious for a union 
of the Latin and Greek Churches. In this he differed 
from the views entertained by Greeks generally, for 
they will hold no communion with members of the 
Latin Church, which they consider an impure and pro- 
fane sect. This shows how strong is each man's con- 
viction of the truth of his own faith. 

When I had spent about two months in the island, 
some of the Pashas became suspicious of my long stay, 
sought an interview with Ali, and told him that they con- 
sidered it would be more convenient if I were recalled 
to the city. For what if I should escape ? I had ships 
at my command, and everything that was needful to 
facilitate my flight, should I be so inclined. Ali told 
them to set their minds at ease, saying, he had the 
most perfect confidence in me. He sent me, notwith- 
standing, a cavasse to tell me of this. The man, after 
examining everything, without appearing to do so, and 
finding nothing to indicate an intention of running away, 
returned with a message from me to Ali Pasha not to 
be afraid ; I would do nothing which would give him 
cause to repent of his confidence in me. I took care, 
by the way, to give the cavasse a douceur. So my 
holiday was prolonged into the third month, and I 
returned to the city, at my own time, without being 
recalled. 

From that time forward Ali Pasha and I became 
firm friends, and were for ever interchanging views 
with the object of re-establishing peace. He is a Dalma- 
tian by birth, and the only polished gentleman I came 
across among the Turkish savages. He is of a quiet 
and gentle disposition, courteous, and extremely intel- 
ligent, possesses great capacity for business, and has 
had much experience both as general in the field and 



STORY OF ROOSTEM AND BUSBECQ. 343 



statesman in the cabinet. For he is now advanced in 
life, and the posts he has held have always been im- 
portant ones. He is above the average height, and, 
while his habitual expression is grave and serious, it 
has about it an ineffable charm. To his master he is 
deeply attached, and he shows it by his anxiety to 
arrange a peace, for he feels that the Sultan's health 
and years require rest. The end which Roostem had 
sought to bring about by rudeness and intimidation he 
endeavoured to compass by courtesy and moderation ; 
— in short, Ali treated me like a friend. 

Roostem was always sour, always overbearing, and 
meant his word to be law. It was not that he was 
ignorant of how matters stood. He knew right well 
what the condition of the times and the Sultan's 
advancing years required, but he was afraid that, if any 
word or act of his should betoken a milder mood, he 
would be suspected of hankering after a bribe, for his 
master had no confidence in his integrity in this re- 
spect. For this reason he did not desist from his 
usual rudeness, although he was desirous of patching 
up a peace. Accordingly, when anything was said 
that did not please him, he refused to listen to me, and 
showed me the door, so that every conference I had 
with him ended in his losing his temper ; though I 
cannot be sure that his anger was not sometimes 
assumed. 

On one occasion, I remember, when I had been 
treating with him on matters concerning the peace, and 
he had rejected my propositions as inadmissible, and had 
told me to be off, if I had no other proposals to make, 
I immediately rose and went home, having first said 
that it was not in my power to go beyond my instruc- 
tions. As he thought I had done this with unusual 
warmth, he called back my interpreter and asked him 



344 TURKISH LETTERS. 



if I was displeased. When the interpreter repHed in 
the negative, ' I want your opinion,' said Roostem ; 'if 
I were to obtain from my master the terms he has 
mentioned to me, do you think he would be as good 
as his word and pay me down the present he has pro- 
mised me ? ' When the interpreter said he felt no doubt 
that I would most faithfully perform whatever I had 
promised, Roostem replied, ' Go home and ask him.' 
I had by me in ready money 5,000 ducats, which are 
equivalent to 6,000 crowns. With these I loaded my 
interpreter, and ordered him to tell Roostem to keep 
them as a proof of my good faith and as a first instal- 
ment, saying, that the rest would follow when the 
business was concluded (for I had promised him a 
still larger sum), I was not in the habit of breaking 
my word. Roostem was delighted to see the money, 
fingered it, and then gave it back to the interpreter! 
saying, ' I do not doubt his good faith ; but as to the 
peace there are difficulties of no ordinary kind in the 
way ; I cannot give him any positive assurance about 
It, indeed I do not yet know my master's intentions. 
Go, take the money back to the Ambassador that he 
may keep it for me, till it is certain what turn the busi- 
ness will take. In the mean time he must be my banker.' 
_ So I saved my money after all, Roostem himself 
being carried off by death some months afterwards. 

I must now tell you of the goodness of our most 
gracious Emperor. When there seemed no object in 
keeping this sum any longer, after giving due notice 
to the Emperor, I applied it to meet a year's expendi- 
ture (for our annual outlay amounted to 6,000 crowns). 
I afterwards repented of this, when I began to reflect on 
the number of years and the great labours and dangers 
this embassy had cost me already; I thought I had 
not done myself justice, inasmuch as though I knew 



ALT AND ROOSTEM CONTRASTED. ^ 345 



the money was but my due, and I had a most excellent 
and generous master, a most just judge of everyone's 
deserts, I had forgotten to avail myself of the oppor- 
tunity, and had made no effort to secure for myself the 
money which had been saved, beyond all hope, like a 
lamb snatched from the very jaws of the wolf There 
are many at court who have obtained far greater re- 
wards for far smaller services. I determined to call 
the Emperor's attention to the case, admit my error, 
and ask him to restore the entire sum, and to set right 
with his usual princely generosity the mistake I had 
committed through my carelessness. I had no difficulty 
in making out my case before so considerate a judge ; he 
ordered the six thousand pieces of gold to be repaid 
me out of his treasury. If I shall ever allow my 
master's great generosity to fade from my memory, I 
shall account myself unworthy to live. 

But to return to my subject ; there was a striking 
contrast between the characters of the Pashas Ali and 
Roostem. The career of the former had been such as 
to place his integrity in money matters above all sus- 
picion. Consequently he was under no apprehension 
that courtesy or kindness on his part would injure 
him with his master. But Roostem, on the contrary, 
was always grasping, always mean, and one who made 
self-interest and money his first consideration. ^ Roos- 
tem used to have very short interviews with me, but 
Ali would purposely keep me for several hours, and 
make my visit pleasant by his great civility. Mean- 
while the Turks, who had come either to call or on 
business, kept murmuring because they were detained 
so long waiting for their audience, while the Pasha was 
closeted with me. I confess I got very hungry at 
these interviews, for he used to summon me to him in 

' See pp. 113, 114. 



346 TURKISH LETTERS. 

the afternoon, and I did not care to eat before I went, 
as I wished to have my brain as clear as possible for 
my conference with this able statesman. In these con- 
versations he strenuously urged, that we should each 
advise our own master to take the course we considered 
most for his interests. ' He was well aware,' he said, 
' that his master required nothing more urgently than 
repose, as his course was nearly run, and he had had 
his fill of military glory ; on the other hand, he felt that 
there was no need to prove to me that peace and quiet 
would be likewise to my master's interests. If he 
desired to consult the safety and tranquillity of his 
subjects, he ought not to rouse the sleeping lion, and 
provoke him once more to enter the lists. Just as 
mirrors, which are naturally empty, take the reflec- 
tions of whatever objects may be placed before them, 
even so the minds of Sovereigns,' he argued, ' are 
blanks, which receive what may be called impres- 
sions of what is presented to them, and therefore we 
ought to put before our masters' minds what would be 
most conducive to their advantage. Also we ought,' 
said he, ' to imitate good cooks, who do not season 
their dishes to suit the palate of this person or that, but 
consult the general taste ; in like manner we, in settling 
the terms of peace, ought to regulate them so as to 
attain results which would be agreeable and honourable 
to both parties alike.' 

He used very sensibly to repeat these and many 
similar arguments, and whenever an opportunity pre- 
sented itself, displayed his good will towards me, and 
if in turn I showed him any sign of attention, he 
received it with marked gratitude. 

About this time he met with an accident. He was 
returning home from the Divan, and had arrived at 
the turn of the road, where it was his habit to bid his 



JOHN BASILIC US. 347 



colleagues farewell. There he chanced to wheel his 
horse round too sharpl)^, and, while engaged in giving 
them a parting salute, bowed low with his whole weight 
on his steed's neck. The horse, which had not yet 
got its foothold, being unequal to the weight, fell with 
its rider to the ground. 

When I heard of this, I ordered my servants to 
visit him and inquire if he had received any harm from 
the accident. He was gratified by the attention, and 
after thanking me replied, ' he was nowhere injured, 
and it was not strange if an old worn-out soldier was 
liable to fall.' Then turning to the bystanders, he said, 
' I cannot tell you how much kindness that Christian 
always shows me.' 

Sometimes he used to tell me that riches, honour, 
and dignities had fallen in abundance to his lot, and 
that now his only object in life was to show kindness to 
every one, and thus to hand down to posterity a grateful 
recollection of his name. 

When we had been already engaged for some time 
in peace negotiations, and I was in great hopes of ob- 
taining the result I desired, an accident occurred, which 
might have upset and ruined everything. 

A Greek by birth, whom they honoured with the 
tide of Despot,^ invaded Moldavia, under the protec- 

' After the Spaniards, in 1533, abandoned the fortress of Coron in the 
Morea, some Greeks, who had taken their part, fled with them to 
Charles V. Among them was one James Heraclides, whose ancestors 
had been Despots, or Lords, of Samos and Paros. In his suite was a lad 
named John Basilicus, the son of a ship-captain in Crete. He took a 
fancy to the young man, and had him educated, and for some yea.s he 
worked as a copyist in the Vatican library. On the death of his patron, 
John persuaded his household to acknowledge him as the nephew of their 
deceased master by allowing them to take possession of the property 
left by him, only keeping for himself all the diplomas, title-deeds and 
other documents he could find. Many years afterwards he repaired 
to Charles V. in his retirement at Yuste, and obtained from him an 
acknowledgment that he was nephew and heir of Heraclides, and as 



3t8 TURKISH LETTERS. 

fion of the Emperor's troops who were guarding the 
Hungarian frontier, and occupied it, after driving out the 

such was recognised by him as Despot of Samos and Paros. Charles V. 
also acknowledged the good service he had done while in the Albanian 
light cavalry attached to the Spanish army, and according to some ac- 
counts gave him the right of conferring the degree of Doctor and 
creating Notaries and Poet-Laureates. Armed with these credentials he 
repaired to Wittenberg, where he became acquainted with Melancthon, 
published an historical work in Latin, and with the Emperor's con- 
sent exercised his powers by creating some Poet-Lauieates. At Lubeck 
he assumed the character of a prince banished by the Turks, and thence 
repaired to the courts of Denmark and Sweden, and next went by 
Dantzic to Albert of Brandenberg, the tirst Duke of Prussia. He then 
visited Nicholas Radzivill at Wilna, who introduced him to Sigismund, 
King of Poland. To gain Radzivill's favour he professed himself a Protes- 
tant. In Poland he heard of the disturbed state of Moldavia, and found 
that the wife of the Hospodar Alexander was a kinswoman of his pretended 
uncle. Armed with letters of recommendation from Radzivill and the King, 
he entered Moldavia, assumed the name of James Heraclides, and on the 
strength of a forged pedigree, passed himself off as a descendant of the 
ancient Moldavian dynasty of that name. He applied himself to learn 
the language and to gain the affections of the nobles. Thereon Alexander, 
who at first had received him well, tried to poison him, but he escaped 
to Upper Hungary ; here he obtained the assistance of Albert Laszky and 
would have invaded Moldavia through Ruthenia, if the Palatine had not 
stopped him by the King of Poland's orders. He then retired to Kaschau, 
where he gained the confidence of Busbecq's old colleague Zay, then 
Governor of Upper Hungary. Having come to an understanding between 
themselves, they wrote to Ferdinand, who entered into a secret agree- 
ment to assist Basilicus with money, and allow him to levy troops in his 
dominions. To lull the suspicions of Alexander, a report of Basilicus's 
death was circulated, and his funeral was actually performed by Laszky 
at Kesmark, the capital of the County of Zips. His second invasion 
proved more successful. In November, 1561, he f^efeated Alexander 
near Suczawa, who fled to Jassy, and thence to Constantinople. There 
he endeavoured to prejudice the Sultan against him, and spread reports 
that he was about to invade Thrace with his German mercenaries. 
Though Solyman was much annoyed at these events, and had commenced 
to assemble an army to attack the Despot, yet he deemed it wiser to 
dissemble his vexation, and, yielding to the representations of the Despot's 
envoys, which were supported by a judicious administration of bribes, 
he conferred on him the vacant dignity. The Despot, however, soon 
made himself unpopular by raising the taxes, which he was obhged to do 
in order to provide the increased tribute he had agreed to pay, Alexander 
having carried off ail the money in the treasury. Moreover, to save 
expense he dismissed his German and Italian troops, retaining only 



CONQUEST OF MOLDAVIA. 349 



Voivode, who was then in possession of that country. 
The Turks were greatly disturbed by this event, which 
was serious enough in itself, and might, they feared, 
be only the first step to further enterprises, but they 
deemed it wise to conceal their anxiety, and not to 
make bad worse by unseemly alarm. But Ali thought 
he ought not to let it pass without communicating 
with me, and ascertaining my views. I received in- 
formation from one of his domestics that in the course 
of a few hours I should be summoned to him about 
this affair. I must confess I was seriously alarmed by 
this message. Our negotiations were well nigh com- 
pleted, in fact we were like players who are about to 
conclude their piece, of which only the last act remains. 
I was in great fear that this new event would disturb 
everything, and carry us away again from the harbour 
which was just in sight. I was summoned to Ali Pasha, 
as I had been warned. He received me with his usual 
politeness, and conversed with me on various topics, 

Hungarians. The priests and common people were alienated by his re^ 
ligious innovations, especially as they could not refute his arguments 
'having learnt to worship God with more zeal than knowledge.' He de- 
clared his intention of abolishing vain ceremonies and false doctrines and 
introduced Calvinist preachers from Poland, who ridiculed the rnass- 
books, expressed their abhorrence of all ceremonies, destroyed images, 
and, in the words of the episcopal historian, had the arrogance to affirm 
that their doctrines agreed with the testimony of the Scriptures. He 
began to plunder the churches of their treasures, plate, &c., which made 
the priests fear their turn would come next. His crowning act of sacri- 
lege was to melt down certain silver crosses, venerable both from their 
age and the relics they contained, and to coin them into pieces bearing 
his image and superscription. The nobles were further estranged by his 
projected marriage with the beautiful Christina, daughter of Martin 
Zborowski, Castellan of Cracow, a man of great influence in Poland, and 
the leader of the Protestant party. Accordingly, they conspired against 
him, treacherously surprised and killed most of his foreign guards his 
other partisans, and his infant child, and besieged him in Suczawa. After 
three months his Hungarian troops mutinied and surrendered the fortress 
and he was cruelly murdered by Tomza, the leader of the conspirators. 



35° TURKISH LETTERS. 

especially those relating to the conclusion of peace, 
without showing either in his words or expression any 
change from his usual demeanour, till I was just pre- 
paring to go, and had risen to bid him farewell. Then, 
as if he had just recollected the subject of Moldavia, 
he told me to sit down again and said, just as one does 
when some trifle has come into one's head, ' Indeed I 
had almost forgotten one thing I wanted to tell you. 
Have you heard that your Germans have come into 
Moldavia ? ' ' Into Moldavia ! ' said I ; 'no, indeed I 
have not, and what is more, it seems to me most impro- 
bable. For what could Germans have to do with so 
distant a country as Moldavia .? ' ' Yet it is true,' said 
he, 'and you will find it to be so.' He then began to 
repeat at greater length what he had told me, and to 
assure me that the news which had arrived was certain. 
' To conclude,' said he, ' to prevent your having any 
doubt about it, we will catch a German and send him 
to you that you may find out the truth from him.' I 
then took the line of saying, that in any case I felt 
quite certain that nothing had been done by the Em- 
peror's orders or authority. The Germans were a free 
nation, and in the habit of taking foreign service. 
Perhaps some of those who had served under the Em- 
peror's generals had after their discharge enlisted as 
mercenaries under some one who required such troops, 
and in my judgment he would not be far wrong in 
attributing the cause of this disturbance to the neio-h- 
bouring Hungarian magnates, who, wearied of the 
wrongs which were heaped on them every day by the 
Turks, had planned to pay them back in their own 
coin, and if I might express what I felt, ' I do not see,' 
said I, 'on what ground they can be blamed, if, when 
harassed so often and goaded on by their wrongs, they 
remembered they were men and ventured to retaliate. 



AN INTERVIEW WITH All. 351 

Is there anything that your soldiers have not for many 
years past thought they might not perpetrate in Hun- 
gary ? What species of outrage or what acts of hos- 
tihty are there that they have abstained from inflicting 
on the Emperor's subjects ? Here indeed hopes of 
peace are put forward, but there war in all its worst 
forms is to be found. I have now been detained here 
as a prisoner for many years, and no one at home 
knows for certain whether I am alive or dead. The 
men who have borne your insults so long deserve, in 
my opinion, praise, not blame, if they avail themselves 
of any opportunity of revenge that presents itself.' 

' Be it so,' said Ali ; ' let them do their worst, pro- 
vided they keep within the borders of Hungary itself 
or the adjoining districts ; but that they should invade 
Moldavia, which is only a few days' journey from 
Adrianople, that indeed is more than we can put up 
with.' 

I replied, ' Men accustomed to war, and more ex- 
perienced in wielding arms than in law, should not be 
expected to make nice or fine-drawn distinctions. 
They seized the first opportunity that offered, and 
thought it was not for them to consider where or how 
far they had leave to go.' Thus I left him without his 
being at all angry, as far as I could judge ; and in fact 
he did not show himself on the following days a bit more 
hard to deal with in the peace negotiations. 

While we were in the midst of this business, I 
received a great kindness, for so I interpret it, from the 
Ambassador of the most Christian King (the King of 
France). There were in the Sultan's prisons at Con- 
stantinople thirteen men, most of them young, including 
some of noble birth, partly Germans and partly Nether- 
landers, who had been reduced to that state by a 
curious accident. They had embarked at Venice 



352 TURKISH LETTERS. 

in the ship, by which pilgrims to the holy city of 
Jerusalem are conveyed every year to Syria with 
passports from the Republic of Venice. Some were 
making the pilgrimage from religious motives, and 
others were travelling for pleasure ; the journey, how- 
ever, was destined to be disastrous to all. They 
landed at a most unfortunate time, as the knights of 
Malta had just made a descent upon that part of the 
coast of Palestine, and had carried off many prisoners. 
The Syrians, whose parents, children, and relations 
had been kidnapped, finding that they had no other 
means of revenging themselves and recovering their 
friends, laid hands on the travellers who were under 
the protection of Venetian passports, and accused them 
of belonging to the pirates, saying, ' You must either 
get our kinsfolk restored to us, or like them be reduced 
to the condition of slaves.' They showed their passports 
from the Venetian government, they appealed to the 
treaties and engagements of the Porte. It was all of 
no use ; might proved stronger than right, and they 
were carried off to Constantinople in chains. Their 
youth also was much against them, as it prevented 
even the Pashas thinking it likely that they were bona 
fide pilgrims, because, as a general rule, it is only the 
older Turks who make religious pilgrimages. 

When I obtained information of these events, I left 
no stone unturned to deliver them from their miserable 
condition ; but my endeavours were wholly unsuccess- 
ful. The Venetian Baily ^ was appealed to, because 
they were under the protection of his Republic when 
they had fallen into misfortune. He frankly admitted 
their claim to his assistance, but pointed out the 
difficulty of his doing them any service when he had 
to deal with such insolent barbarians as the Turks. 

' See note, page 226. 



THE RELEASE OF THE PILGRIMS. 353 



Meanwhile I did what I could to lighten their misfor- 
tunes. However, to my great surprise and joy they 
one day came to me in a body and told me they were 
sent home, thanks to the Ambassador of the most 
Christian King; through his good offices they had 
obtained their freedom. I was indeed delighted at 
this unhoped-for event, and had my warmest thanks 
conveyed to the Ambassador. The said Ambassador, 
Lavigne, being about to leave, had managed, when he 
was having a farewell audience of Solyman and was 
kissing his hand according to the established etiquette, 
to thrust into it a paper, in which he asked that those 
men, whose calamity had been caused by their under- 
taking a pilgrimage, should be granted their liberty as 
a favour to his King. Solyman complied with his 
request and ordered them to be instandy released.^ I 
provided them with means for their journey, and havino- 
put them on board ship, sent them to Venice, and 
thence to their own country. 

This Lavigne had at first made himself troublesome 
to me in many ways, and, whenever he could, tried to 
impede my negotiations, and did his best, without any 
fault of mine, to prejudice the Pashas against me. He 
used to say I was a subject of the King of Spain, as I 
was born in the Netherlands, and was as much that 

1 The farewell audience took place on the Tuesday before September, 
10, 1559. Apparently, however, it was on June 6 that Lavigne pro- 
cured the release of the prisoners. The Baily, Marini di Cavallo, was 
much annoyed at the favour, which had been refused to his entreaties and 
bribes, being granted to Lavigne. ' Et il ne s'est peu tenir, tout saige et 
cavallo qu'il est, de se faire cognoistre fol et asino : car usant de paroles 
magnifiques et de ceste bonne crdance de Realto contre moy, au lieu de 
me louer et vous faire remercier par sa seigneurie d'une si bonne ctuvre 
qu'il n'eust jamais sceu mectre a fin, soubz main il a taschd de faire dresser 
les commandements desdits pellerins en son nom, et de corrompre I'ani- 
bassadeur du roy des Remains (Busbecq) aftin qu'il escripvit a I'empe- 
reur que c'estoit k la requeste de ladicte seigneurie qu'ils avoient estd 
deliverez.'— Charri^re, Negocialions Sec, ii. 584. 

VOL. I. A A 



354 TURKISH LETTERS. 

King's servant as the Emperor's. He told them King 
PhiHp was informed through me of everything that 
went on at Constantinople ; that I had suborned men 
for that purpose, who disclosed to me all the greatest 
secrets, among whom Ibrahim, the first dragoman of the 
Sultan, about whom 1 shall speak later on, played the 
principal part. All this had happened before peace had 
been made between the Kings of Spain and France; and 
when peace was concluded he seems to have sought 
an opportunity to make amends for what he had done. 
Lavigne was a man of a rude and brutal frankness ; 
he always said what was uppermost in his mind, quite 
regardless of the feelings of his hearer. The conse- 
quence was that Roostem himself shrank from meeting 
him, although other people were afraid of conversing 
with Roostem on account of the rudeness of his lan- 
guage. Lavigne would send his dragomans to demand 
an audience for himself ; Roostem would make excuses, 
and tell him to communicate what he wanted through 
them, and spare himself the trouble, assuring him that it 
could be done just as well without his coming. But 
this used to be all in vain, for he would presently come 
and say such things as seldom failed to give offence 
to Roostem. To take an instance, he one day com- 
plained that they did not have as much regard for 
his master as they ought to have. ' For what is your 
opinion } ' said he ; ' perhaps you think Buda, Gran, 
Stuhlweissenburg, and the other towns of Hungary 
were taken by your valour, but you are quite mistaken. 
It is through us you hold them. For had it not been 
for the quarrels and perpetual wars, which have existed 
between our Kings and those of Spain, you would have 
been so far from being able to get possession of those 
towns, that scarcely at Constantinople itself would you 
have been safe from Charles V.' Roostem bore this 



THE GOTHS OF THE CRIMEA. 355 



no longer, but burst into a violent passion, and ex- 
claimed, ' Why do you talk to me of your Kings and 
those of Spain ? Such is the power of my master that, 
if all your Christian princes were to unite their forces 
and make war on him at once, he would not care a 
straw for it, and would win an easy victory over them 
all' With these words he retreated to his chamber in 
a rage, after ordering the Ambassador to leave. 

I cannot here omit what I learnt about a tribe ^ 
which still dwells in the Crimea, which I had often 
heard showed traces of a German origin in their 
language, customs, and lastly in their face and habit of 
body. Hence I had long been eager to see one of 
that tribe, and, if possible, to procure from them some- 
thing written in that language ; but in this I was 
unsuccessful. However, at last an accident in some 
measure satisfied my wishes, as two men had been sent 
to Constantinople from those parts, to lay before the 
Sultan some complaints or other in the name of that 
tribe. My dragomans fell in with them, and recollect- 

1 It is curious to find that some Gotlis still existed in the Crimea so 
late as Busbecq's days. They occupied the south coast from Balaklava 
to Sudak, and the mountains north of the latter, and the Genoese officer 
who governed this coast in the fifteenth century, bore the title of Capi- 
tanus Gotiffi. They are mentioned by the monk Rubruquis, who was 
sent in 1253 by Saint Louis to the Great Khan, and also by Marco Polo 
(book iv. c. 24, Yule's edition, ii. p. 421 and note). The traveller Pallas at 
the end of the last century, could find no traces of them or of their kn 
guage, so that he thinks {Travels, vol. ii. p. 358), that Busbecq's belief in 
their existence must have arisen from some German, Swedish, or other cap 
lives being found in the Crimea. Busbecq, however, is not the only writer 
who notices these Goths, and it is not difficult to understand that the 
tribe may have disappeared before the time of Pallas in the numerous 
wars which devastated the Crimea. The ruins of Mancup still remain 
four leagues south of Simferopol, and nearly due east of Sebastopol It 
IS an almost inaccessible fortress, on a high isolated rock. Pallas describes 
the ruins of it in the second volume of his Travels. One of Gibbon's 
numerous references to Busbecq is found in a note to Chapter xl where 
he alludes to ' these unambitious Goths.' ' 

A A 2 



35^ TURKISH LETTERS, 

ing my orders on the subject, they brought them to me 
to dinner. 

One of them was about the middle height, and had 
an air of superior breeding — you might have taken 
him for a Fleming or Batavian ; the other was shorter, 
more strongly built, and of a dark complexion, being 
by birth and language a Greek, but by having traded 
there for some time he had acquired a fair acquaint- 
ance with their tongue ; while the other man had 
lived and associated so much with the Greeks that 
he had picked up their language and forgotten his 
own. When questioned about the nature and customs 
of these people he answered my inquiries in a straight- 
forward manner. He said the tribe was warlike, and 
even now inhabited numerous villages, from which the 
chief of the Tartars raised, when expedient, 800 in- 
fantry, armed with fire-arms, the mainstay of his army. 
Their chief towns are called Mancup and Scivarin. 

He told me also much about the Tartars and 
their barbarism, among whom, however, he said a 
good many men of remarkable ability might be found. 
For when asked about matters of importance they 
answered shortly and to the purpose. On this account 
the Turks, not without reason, say that all other 
nations have their wisdom Avritten in books, but the 
Tartars have devoured their books, and so have it 
stored up in their breasts, and consequently are able to 
bring it out when needful, and talk like men inspired. 
They are very dirty in their habits ; if any broth is 
served at table they require no spoons, but use instead 
the palm of the hand. They devour the flesh of 
slaughtered horses without cooking it in any way ; all 
they do is to spread the pieces under their horses' 
saddles, this warms them .slightly, and they then 
proceed to eat the meat, as if it had been dressed after 



A GOTHIC VOCABULARY 



357 



the most dainty fashion. The chief of the nation eats 
off a silver table. The first and also the last dish 
served is a horse's head, as among us butter is honoured 
with the first and last place. 

Now I will write down a few of the many German 
words, which he repeated, for the form of quite as 
many was totally different from ours, whether because 
this is due to the genius of that language, or because 
his memory failed him, and he substituted foreign for 
the native words. To all words he prefixed the article 
' tko ' or ' ^ke.' The words which were the same as 
ours, or only a little difterent, were these : ^ 



Gothic. 

Broe 

Plut 

Stul 

Hus 

Wingart 

Reghen 

Bruder 

Schwester 

Alt 

Wintch 

Silvir 

Goltz 

Kor 

Salt 

Fisct 

Hoef 

Thurn 

Stern 

Sune 

Mine 

Tag 

Oeghene 

Bars 

Handa 



English. 

Bread 

Blood 

Stool 

House 

Vine 

Rain 

Brother 

Sister 

Old 

Wind 

Silver 

Gold 

Corn 

Salt 

Fish 

Head 

Door 

Star 

Sun 

Moon 

Day 

Eyes 

Beard 

Hand 



Flemish. 

Brood 

Bloed 

Stoel 

Huys 

Wijngaert 

Regen 

Broader 

Zuster 

Oud 

Wind 

Zilver 

Goud 

Koran 

Zout 

Visch 

Hoofd 

Deure 

Star 

Zon 

Maen 

Dag 

Oogen 

Baert 

Hand 



I Tha Flemish is not given by Busbecq, but has been taken by the 
translators from an article on Busbecq in Les Voyageurs Beiges, ii. p. 30, 
by the Baron de Saint-Gdnois. 



358 



TURKISH LETTERS. 



Gothic. 

Boga 

Miera 

Rinck or Ringo 

Briinna 

Waghen 

Apel 

Schieten 

Sclilipen 

Kommen 

Singhen 

Lachen 

Criten 

Geen 

Breen 

Schwalch 



English. 

Bow 
Ant 
Ring 
Spring 
Waggon 
Apple 
To shoot 
To sleep 
To come 
To sing 
To laugh 
To cry 
Togo 
To roast 
Death 



Flemish. 

Bogen 

Mier 

Ring 

Bron 

Wagen 

Appel 

Schieten 

Slapen 

Komen 

Zingen 

Lachen 

Kryten 

Gaen 

Braen 



Knauen Tag meant good day. Knauen signified 
good, and he used many other words which did not 
agree with our tongue, for example : 



lel, life or health 
leltsch, alive or well 
lel uburt, be it well 
Marzus, marriage 
Schuos, a bride 
Baar, a boy 
Ael, a stone 
Menus, flesh 
Rintsch, a mountain 
Fers, a man 
Statz, the earth 
Ada, an ^gg 
Ano, a hen 
Telich, foolish 



Stap, a goat 

Gadeltha, beautiful 

Atochta, bad 

Wichtgata, white 

Mycha, a sword 

Lista, too little 

Schedit, light 

Borrotsch, a wish 

Cadariou, a soldier 

Kilemschkop, drink up your cup 

Tzo warthata, thou didst 

les varthata, he did 

Ich malthata, I say 



Being told to count he did so thus : Ita, hia, tria, 
fyder, fyuf, seis, sevene, precisely as we Flemings do. 
For you men of Brabant, who pretend you talk German, 
are, on this point, in the habit of lauding yourselves to 
the skies, and ridiculing us on account of what you are 
pleased to call our abominable pronunciation of that 
word, which you Y>^onouncQ seven. He went on thus; 
atke, nyne, tkiine, tkiinita, thtmehia, thunetria. Twenty 
he called stega, thirty treithyen, iorty ficrderthien, a 



A PILGRIMAGE TO CHINA. 359 



hundred sada, a thousand hazev. He also repeated 
a song in that language, which began as follows, 

Wara, wara ingdolou ; 
Scu te gira Galizu 
Haemisclep dorbiza ea. 

Whether they are Goths or Saxons I cannot decide. 
If Saxons, I think they were transported thither in the 
time of Charlemagne, who dispersed that nation through 
various regions of the world, as the cities in Transyl- 
vania,^ which are to this day inhabited by Saxons, 
bear witness. And perhaps it was decided that the 
bravest of them should be removed yet further, as 
far as the Tauric Chersonese, where, though in the 
midst of enemies, they still retain the Christian re- 
ligion. But if they are Goths, I am of opinion that 
even in ancient times they occupied those tracts, which 
adjoin the Getse. And perhaps one would not be 
wrong in thinking that the greatest part of the country 
which lies between the island of Gothland and what is 
now called Perekop was at one time inhabited by 
Goths. 

Hence came the various clans named Visigoths and 
Ostrogoths ; hence they started on their career of vic- 
tory, all over the world ; this was the vast hive of that 
barbarian swarm. Now you have heard what I learnt 
about the Tauric Chersonese from these men of Perekop. 
Now listen to what I heard from a Turkish pilgrim 
about the city and country of Cathay (China). He 
belonged to the sect who hold it a religious duty to 
wander through distant regions, and to worship God on 

1 This is a mistake on Busbecq's part. The first German immigrants 
came to Transylvania at the invitation of Geisa 11., king of Hungary, m 
the times of Conrad III. and Frederick Barbarossa, i.e., about the middle 
of the twelfth century. Most of them came from the Lower Rhine. They 
still form distinct communities, marrying only among themselves, and are 
known as Saxons. 



36o TURKISH LETTERS. 



the highest mountains and in wild and desert places. 
He had traversed almost the whole of the East, where 
he had made acquaintance with the Portuguese ; and 
then, excited by the desire of visiting the city and 
kmgdom of Cathay, he had joined some merchants 
who were setting out thither, for they are accus- 
tomed to assemble in large numbers, and so journey 
in a body to the frontiers of that realm. Few reach 
their destination safely, as the risk is great. There 
are many intervening tribes who are treacherous to 
travellers, and whose attacks are to be feared every 
moment. 

When they had travelled some distance from the 
Persian frontier, they came to the cities of Samarcand, 
Bokhara, and Tashkend, and to other places inhabited 
by Tamerlane's successors. To these there succeeded 
vast deserts or tracts of country, sometimes inhabited by 
savage and inhospitable clans, and sometimes by tribes 
of a more civilised description ; but everywhere the 
country is so poor that there is great difficulty in get- 
ting provisions. On this account every man had pro- 
vided himself with food and the other necessaries of 
life, and great numbers of camels were loaded with 
these supplies. A large party of this kind is called 
a caravan. 

After many months of toil they arrived at the 
passes, which may be termed the keys of the kingdom 
of Cathay (for a great part of the dominions of the 
King of Cathay is inland, and surrounded by wild 
mountains and precipitous rocks, nor can it be entered 
except by certain passes which are held by the Kino-'s 
forces). At this point the merchants were asked, what 
they brought, where they came from, and how many 
of them there were.? This information the King's 
garrison troops transmit by smoke in the day time, and 



CHINESE TELEGRAPHS, 361 

by fire at night, to the next beacon, and that in turn 
to the next, and so on, till news of the merchants' 
arrival is forwarded to the King of Cathay, which 
otherwise could not be done for the space of several 
days. In the same manner and with equal speed he 
sends back word what his pleasure is, saying whether 
he chooses them all to be admitted, or part of them to 
be excluded, or their entrance delayed. If admitted, 
they are conducted by appointed guides by halting- 
places established at proper stages, where the neces- 
saries of food and clothing are supplied at a fair price, 
till they reach Cathay itself. Here they first declare 
what each of them has brought, and then, as a mark of 
respect, present the King with whatever gift they think 
proper. In addition to receiving the gift, he has also 
the right of purchasing at a fair valuation whatever 
articles he pleases. 

The rest they sell or barter as they choose, a day 
for their return being fixed, up to which they have the 
power of carrying on business, for the Cathayans do 
not approve of foreigners sojourning too long, for fear 
their national customs should be corrupted by foreign 
manners. They are then courteously sent back by the 
same stages by which they came. 

The same pilgrim described that nation as very 
ingenious, and said they were civilised and well 
governed. They have a religion of their own, distinct 
from Christianity, Judaism, or Mahomedanism, but 
more like Judaism without its ceremonies. For many 
centuries back the art of printing has been in use 
among them, as is sufficiently proved by the books 
printed in that country. For this purpose they use 
paper made of silkworms' cocoons, so thin, that it will 
only bear the impression of the type on one side ; the 
other is left blank. 



362 TURKISH LETTERS 



There are numerous shops in that city which sell 
the scent they call musk. It is the secretion of a beast 
the size of a kid. 

No article of merchandise is more prized among 
them than a lion ; this beast being uncommon in those 
countries is exceedingly admired, and nothing fetches 
a higher price. 

These statements about the kingdom of Cathay I 
learned from the mouth of this wanderer, for which 
their author must be responsible. For indeed it is 
quite possible, that, when I was asking him about 
Cathay, he might have been answering me about some 
other neighbouring country, and according to the pro- 
verb, when I was asking for a sickle, have answered 
me about a spade. 

When I heard this story from him, I thought it well 
to ask, whether he had brought from any place he had 
visited any rare root, or fruit, or stone. ' Nothing at all,' 
said he, ' except that I carry about this root for my own 
use, and if I chew and swallow the least particle of it, 
when I am suffering from languor or cold, I am sti- 
mulated and get warm.' As he spoke he gave it me to 
taste, warning me at the same time that it must be 
used very sparingly. My physician, William Quac- 
quelben, who was at that time still alive, tasted itT and 
from the heat with which it inflamed his mouth, pro- 
nounced it to be true Napellus or Aconite.^ 

This, I think, is the proper place to tell you of the 
miracle wrought by another Turkish pilgrim and monk. 
He went about in a shirt and white mantle reaching 
down to the feet, and let his hair grow long, so that he 
resembled the apostles as they are usually depicted by 
our painters. Under an engaging appearance was con- 
cealed the mind of an impostor ; but the Turks vene- 

' See note i, page 415. 



FEATS OF DERVISHES. 363 

rated him as a man famous for his miracles. They 
urged my dragomans to bring him to me that I 
might see him. He dined with me, behaving soberly 
and modestly, and then went down into the court- 
yard of the house, and returned soon afterwards carry- 
inof a stone of enormous weight, with which he struck 
himself on his bare breast several blows that had well 
nigh felled an ox. Then he laid his hand on an iron 
which had been made white hot in a fire lighted for 
the purpose. He put this into his mouth, and turned 
it about in every direction so that his saliva hissed. 
The iron he took into his mouth was oblong, but 
thicker at either end and rectangular, and so heated by 
the fire that it was just like a glowing coal. When he 
had done this, he put the iron back in the fire and 
departed, after bidding me farewell, and receiving a 
present. 

My servants, who were standing around, were as- 
tonished, except one who thought himself cleverer than 
the rest. ' And why,' said he, ' you stupid fellows, do 
you wonder at this ? Do you believe these things are 
done in reality ; they are mere feats of legerdemain 
and optical delusions ? ' Without more ado he seized 
the iron by the part that stood a good way out of the 
fire, to prove it could be handled without injury. But 
no sooner had he closed his hand, than he drew it 
back, with the palm and fingers so burnt that it was 
several days before he was well ; an accident which 
was followed by great laughter from his fellow-servants, 
who asked him, ' Whether he now believed it was hot, 
or was still incredulous ? ' and invited him to touch 
it again. 

The same Turk told me at dinner, that his abbot, a 
man renowned for the sanctity of his life and for his 
miracles, was accustomed to spread his cloak on the 



3^4 TURKISH LETTERS. 



lake which adjoined his monastery, sit down on it, and 
so take a pleasant sail wherever he liked.^ He also 
was in the habit of being tied to a sheep, which had 
been flayed and dressed, with his arms fastened to its 
fore, and his legs to its hind quarters, and being thrown 
in this condition into a heated oven, where he stayed 
till he gave orders for himself and the sheep to be 
taken out, when it was well roasted and fit to eat, and 
he none the worse.^ 

I don't believe it, you will say ; for the matter of 
that, neither do I ! I only tell you what I heard ; but 
as to the white hot iron, I saw it with my own eyes. 
Yet this feat is not so astonishing after all, as no doubt 
while he pretended to be looking for a stone in the 
court yard, he fortified his mouth against the fierceness 

' A similar legend is told of St. Raymond, a Spanish saint, who lived 
in the thirteenth century. He was confessor to Don James, King of 
Aragon. In the words of Mrs. Jameson {Legends of the Monastic Orders, 
p. 421), ' the latter ' (the King) ' had but one fault ; he was attached to a 
certain beauty of his court from whom Raymond in vain endeavoured to 
detach him. When the King summoned his confessor to attend him to 
Majorca, the saint refused unless the lady were left ; the King affected to 
yield, but soon after their arrival in Majorca, Raymond discovered that the 
lady was also there in the disguise of a page ; he remonstrated ; the King 
grew angry ; Raymond intimated his resolution to withdraw to Spain ; 
the King forbad any vessel to leave the port, and made it death to any 
person to convey him from the island. The result is thus gravely related : 
St. Raymond, full of confidence in God, said to his companion, " An 
earthly King has deprived us of the means of escape, but a heavenly 
King will supply them ! " Then walking up to a rock which projected 
into the sea, he spread his cloak on the waters, and setting his staff up- 
right and tying one corner to it for a sail, he made the sign of the cross, 
and boldly embarked in this new kind of vessel. He was wafted over the 
surface of the ocean with such rapidity that in six hours he reached Bar- 
celona. This stupendous miracle might perhaps have been doubted, if five 
hundred credible witnesses had not seen the saint land on the quay at Bar- 
celona, take up his cloak, which was not even wetted by the waves, throw it 
round him, and retire modestly to his cell ; more like an humble penitent 
than one in whose favour Heaven had so wonderfully wrought.' 

* This feat is by no means impossible. See Hone's Everyday Book 
ii. p. 771-9- ' 



More liberty granted to busbecq. 365 

of the fire by some medicament, such as you know 
have been discovered.^ For I remember seeing a 
mountebank in the Piazza at Venice handle molten 
lead, and as it were wash his hands in it without 
injury. 

I mentioned already that a few days before Roos- 
tem's death the severity of my prison rules was relaxed. 
This was exceedingly agreeable to me, on account of 
the liberty of access to me which was thus granted to 
men of foreign and distant nations, from whom I 
received much information that amused me ; but this 
pleasure was counterbalanced by an equal inconve- 
nience, because my servants abused the privilege given 
them of p-oing- abroad, and often wandered about the 
city unescorted by Janissaries. The consequences 
were quarrels and disturbances with the Turks, which 
gave me a great deal of trouble ; and, out of the many 
that happened, I will relate one as a specimen, from 
which you can imagine the others, that you may know 
everything about us. 

Two of my servants crossed over to Pera without 
Janissaries, either because they were all out, or because 
they did not think they required their escort. One of 
them was my apothecary and the other my butler. 
Having finished their business in Pera, they hired a 
boat to return to Constantinople ; but scarcely had 
they taken their seats in it, when there came a boy 
from the judge, or cadi, of that place, who ordered 

1 A receipt by which this feat may be accomphshed is given in the 
Booke of Secrets of Albertus Magnus, imprinted at London by H. Jackson. 
' Take the juice of Bismalua, and the white of an egge, and the seed of 
an herb called Psillium, also Pulicarius herba, and break it into powder, 
and make a confection, and myxe the juice of Radysh with the white of 
an egge. Anoynt thy body or hand with this confection, and let it be 
dryed, and after anoynte it againe ; after that thou mayest suffer boldely 
the fire without hurt.' (See Hone's Everyday Book, ii. p. 774.) Similar 
feats were performed before Evelyn. {Diary, p. 370.) 



366 TURKISH LETTERS. 



them to get out, and give up the boat to his master. 
My servants refused, and pointed out there were boats 
enough about for the cadi to cross in, and told him 
this one had already been engaged by them. How- 
ever, he persevered, and tried to get them out by force. 
My men resisted, and that right stoutly, so that they 
soon came to blows. As all this was going on before 
the eyes of the judge, who was approaching, he could 
not restrain himself from running down to help the 
boy, who was a great favourite with him for reasons 
that need not be explained. But while he was care- 
lessly rushing down the steps leading to the sea, which 
were slippery with ice (for it was winter), he missed 
his footing and would have tumbled into the sea — his 
feet were already wet with the water — had not his com- 
panions assisted him. The Turks gathered from all 
Pera, and an outcry was raised that Christians had 
laid violent hands on the judge, and all but drowned 
him in the sea. They seized my servants, and with 
great tumult dragged them before the voivode, or 
judge who tries capital charges. The sticks were got 
ready and their feet were inserted in the posts, for the 
purpose of administering the bastinado. One of my men, 
who was an Italian, being in a furious passion, never 
stopped shouting the whole time ' Voui^, chiopecklar, 
voter. Strike us, you dogs, strike us ! 'Tis w^ who have 
been wronged, and we have deserved no punishment. 
We are servants of the Emperor's Ambassador. You 
will be punished by your Sultan when he knows of 
this.' All this, in spite of his speaking in broken 
Turkish, his hearers could quite understand. One of 
the Turks among the rioters was amazed at his bold- 
ness and exclaimed, ' Do you think this one-eyed fellow 
a human being ? ' (for he had lost one eye), ' believe me, 
he is no such thing, but belongs to the race of one- 



A BRAWL AT PER A. 367 

eyed Genies.' The voivode however, who was himself 
struck by such courage, that he might not do more 
or less than was right, decided on sending them to 
Roostem unhurt. They went to him, accompanied by 
a great crowd of false witnesses, who had been procured 
to crush by their evidence those innocent men. The 
Turks think it an act of great piety to bear witness 
against a Christian ; they do not wait to be asked but 
come unbidden, and obtrude themselves of their own 
accord, as happened on this occasion. Therefore they 
all exclaimed with one voice, ' These robbers have 
dared to commit a most atrocious crime, and have 
knocked the judge down with their fists, and if they had 
not been stopped, they would have thrown him into 
the sea.' My men denied these charges, and said 
they were accused unjustly, and then' declared they 
were my servants. Roostem soon perceived that it 
was a case of false accusation ; but to divert the anger 
of the excited multitude, he assumed a stern expres- 
sion, and saying that he would punish them himself, 
ordered them to be taken to prison. The prison 
served as a fortress to my servants against the violence 
of the raging mob. Roostem then heard the evidence 
of those whom he considered worthy of credit, and 
found my servants were innocent, and that it was the 
judge that was to blame, 

Through my dragomans I demanded the surrender 
of my servants. Roostem thought the matter import- 
ant enough to be laid before the Council, saying he 
was afraid, that, if the Sultan should hear of it, he would 
suspect it was through the influence of money that 
the wrong the judge had sustained had been passed 
over. Already there existed some intimacy between 
me and Ali Pasha ; and I expostulated with him in 
strong terms, through the same dragomans, and de- 



3^8 TURKISH LETTERS. 



manded that an end should be put to the persecution 
of my servants. Ali undertook the case and told me 
to set my mind at ease, as this trouble would soon be 
at an end. Roostem, however, was still shilly-shally- 
ing ; he was always afraid to do me a kindness for 
fear of being suspected of receiving a bribe ; on that 
account he would have preferred having the business 
settled on such terms, that the judge should be left no 
cause for complaint. He sent me word that it seemed 
to him to be the wisest plan to appease the judge by 
giving him some pieces of gold as a sop, and that five 
and twenty ducats would be enough for the purpose. 
I replied that I was obliged to him for his advice. If 
he told me, as a personal favour to himself, to throw fifty 
ducats into the sea, I would do so at once ; but here it 
was not a question of money but of precedent, that was 
at stake. For if it were laid down as a rule, that who- 
ever had injured my men, should, instead of being 
punished, be actually j^aid for doing so, I should soon 
come to the end of my purse. Whenever anyone's 
dress began to get worn or torn, he would resolve to 
do my servants some harm, inasmuch as he would feel 
sure of getting paid for his trouble, and thus obtaining 
a new dress at my expense. Nothing could be more 
disgraceful than this or more injurious to my interests. 
Accordingly my servants were sent back, thanks, in a 
great measure, to the advocacy of Ali Pasha. But 
when the Venetian Baily ^ heard of it he sent for one 
of my dragomans, and begged him to tell him how 
much I had paid to settle the affair. ' Not a penny,' 
he replied. Then the Baily said, ' If we had been con- 
cerned, I warrant you we should hardly have got out 
of it for 200 ducats.' The man whom it cost most 
dear was this model of a judge, who was removed from 

^ 5ee note, page 226, 



SPAIN AND FRANCE MAKE PEACE. 369 



office, because, according to their notion, a man is 
disgraced who has received a thrashing from a Christ- 
ian, and this, by his own admission, had been the case 
with him. 

You ask for news about the Spanish generals, tell- 
ing me that there is a report in your neighbourhood that 
they owe their liberty to me. They were the follow- 
ing, viz., de Sande, the commander of the land forces, 
and Leyva and Requesens, the admirals of the Neapo- 
litan and Sicilian fleets. I will give you a short account 
of how I managed it. 

The Turks were much annoyed at the conclusion 
of peace between the Kings of Spain and France, which 
was by no means favourable to their interests ; ^ es- 
pecially as they found the treaty was not such as they 
had believed it to be at first, for they had been con- 
vinced that they would have been high in the list of 
those entitled to enjoy the benefits of the same peace. 
Accordingly, when they found themselves passed over, 
thinking that a bad return had been made them, 
though they dissembled their vexation, they sought an 
opportunity to give some hint that their feelings were 
no longer so friendly as they had been. Solyman had 
written to the King of France to say he approved of 
the peace, but at the same time desired the King to 
remember that old friends do not easily become foes, 
or old foes friends. 

The offence the Turks felt on these grounds was 
not a little favourable to my negotiations, and I was 
aided in addition by AH Pasha's kindly feeling towards 
me, and Ibrahim's great desire of proving his gratitude. 
You remember I mentioned previously that when 
Lavigne was calumniating me, he at the same time 

' Treaty of Cateau Cambresis, concluded between France and Spain 
April 3, 1559. ' 

VOL. I. R B 



310 TURKISH LETTERS. 

used to accuse Ibrahim, implying that he betrayed to 
me all the designs of the Turks. 

This Ibrahim, the Sultan's first dragoman (the 
Turkish word for interpreter), was a Pole by birth ; he 
was hated by Lavigne, because he thought that Ibrahim, 
in a deadly quarrel between himself and de Codignac, 
his predecessor in the embassy, had taken de Codignac's 
part too strongly. I need not trouble you with the 
whole story, as it has not much to do with our subject. 
Lavigne, recollecting this, was always Ibrahim's bitter 
enemy ; and whenever he had an opportunity of ad- 
dressing the Pashas, every other word he spoke was 
abuse of Ibrahim. At last he got him degraded from 
office and reduced to a private position. 

This concerned me but little, as there had never 
been any friendship between Ibrahim and myself, but 
on the contrary a somewhat hostile feeling, as I had 
often found him on the side against us. I was sorry 
however that the story should get abroad that it was 
for my sake he had been removed from office. While 
Ibrahim was living in this condition, deeply humiliated 
by the loss of his post, as indeed is usually the case 
with men who have ceased to be what they were, I 
tried to lighten his misfortunes by any attentions in 
my power, and on several occasions, when there was 
a press of business in the course of the peace negotia- 
tions, I employed him as an extra dragoman, and 
made him a medium of communication with the Pashas. 
This was readily allowed by Ali from his good feel- 
ing towards me, and because he was well aware that 
Ibrahim had been wrongfully degraded. At last I 
effected his restoration to his former position and 
dignity. From these circumstances he became much 
attached to me, so that his great desire was to find 
some means of proving his gratitude for my ser- 



FAILURE OF SALVIATFS MISSION. 371 

vices. Most loyally did he plead my cause in every 
question ; and did his best to obtain for me the favour 
of all whom he could influence. This was an easier 
task for him from their disgust at the recent peace, on 
account of which, as I said, the Turks were secretly 
angry with the French, so that, when a gentleman 
named Salviati came to Constantinople to obtain de 
Sande's freedom in the name of the King of France, his 
errand was a complete failure. De Sand6 had for 
some time been eagerly looking forward to this embassy, 
hoping thereby to procure his liberty, and, feeling cer- 
tain that this was the only chance of recovering his 
freedom, had gone to great expense in providing presents 
to do honour to the Pashas and the Sultan himself, 
according to the usual custom. And now, to make a 
long story short, all was over, Salviati had taken his 
departure, and his embassy had proved a failure. 

The servants whom de Sandd had employed as his 
agents, terrified by this, came to me, and confessed 
they did not venture to inform him of such a disap- 
pointment ; he had entirely depended on his hopes 
from this mission, and now they were afraid he would 
become desperate, and not only lose his health, but also 
his life ; they therefore asked me to give them my assist- 
ance and to write to him myself 

I was inclined to refuse, as I had neither arguments 
nor language to console a man who had received such a 
cruel blow. De Sande was a man of great spirit and 
exceedingly sanguine temperament, and did not know 
what fear was. But when men, whose temper inclines 
them to hope that everything they wish will come 
about, find everything taking an adverse turn and 
going against their wishes, there is generally a great 
reaction, and their spirits become so depressed that it 
is no easy matter to raise them to a proper level. 

B 3 2 



372 TURKISH LETTERS. 

While our business was at a standstill from this 
difficulty, the dragoman Ibrahim most fortunately called 
on me, and when in the course of conversation mention 
was made of the Spanish prisoners, he told me in so 
many words, that, if I were to request their release, it 
would not be refused. He knew what he was saying 
and had it on good authority. 

He had indeed been previously in the habit of 
throwing out rather obscure hints, calculated to make 
me hope they might be liberated if I were to intercede ; 
but I did not take much heed of what he said, for how 
could I venture to make such an attempt when I was 
not yet sure of jDeace ? I was also restrained by the fear 
that I should do no good myself, if I interfered at an 
unfavourable moment, and might j^erhaps also hinder 
Salviati's negotiations. But when, after his departure, 
I heard Ibrahim, who was closely attached tome, make 
such a declaration, there seemed to be something in it, 
and I began to pay more attention to his words, 
cautioning him, however, at the same time not to place 
me in a false position, and expose his friend to ridicule. 
This would certainly be my fate if I were to under- 
take unsuccessfully a task which was generally supposed 
to be hopeless, and in which there had already been an 
adverse decision. He persevered notwithstanding, and 
told me that I might rely on what he said ; and that 
he would absolutely guarantee my success. 

Relying on his assurances I wrote to de Sande, 
and informed him of the result of Salviati's negotiations, 
but told him not to despair, for, unless all Turks were 
liars, there was hope in store for him, and then I re- 
lated what I had heard from Ibrahim. Having taken 
this step, I next consulted certain friends of mine who 
had great experience in Turkish affairs. They replied 
that they wished me success in my undertaking, but 



RELEASE OF SPANISH GENERALS. 373 

they did not see how I could obtain what had just been 
denied to the Ambassador of a King who was an old 
friend, especially while the result of our negotiations 
for peace was still doubtful ; and they pointed out that 
all precedents showed how difficult it was to prevail on 
the Turks to liberate important prisoners. However, 
I wrote to the Emperor, and acquainted him with the 
hopes that had been held out to me, at the same time 
earnestly entreating him to ask Solyman to release 
the prisoners. 

To make a long story short, after large presents 
had been promised the Pashas, if they should show 
themselves gracious and favourable to their liberation, 
on the eve of St. Laurence's day (August 9), they were 
all taken out of prison and conducted to my lodging. 

De Sand6 and Leyva hated each other worse than 
if they had been brothers ! for which reason it was 
necessary to have a table laid separately for the latter, 
with whom Requesens dined. De Sand6 sat at the 
same table with myself At dinner there came in a 
steward from the charge d'affaires of the King of France, 
bringing me some notes which had come into his hands. 
De Sande asked him if he knew him. ' I think,' said 
he, ' you are Don Alvaro.' ' I am indeed,' said he, 
' and you will convey my best compliments to your 
master, and tell him how you saw me here a free man, 
thanks to the Ambassador before you.' ' I see it indeed,' 
he replied, ' but yet I can hardly believe my own eyes.' 
This was done by de Sande because the charge 
d'affaires, though in other respects an excellent fellow, 
was one of the persons who could not be convinced 
that Solyman would liberate the prisoners as a favour 
to the Emperor Ferdinand.^ 

' ' Alvaro de Sande fit tres bien ^la bataille de Gerbes, W ou combat- 
tant vaillamment il fut pris et men^ k Constantinople en signe de tri- 



374 TURKISH LETTERS, 

But before they were released from prison, the 
Mufti, the head of the Turkish rehgion, was consulted 
on the question, if it were lawful to exchange a few 
Christians for a larger number of captive Turks ? for I 
had promised that not fewer than forty Turkish pri- 
soners, who, however, might be common people of no 
rank, should be given in exchange. The Mufti replied 
that there were two authorities on the point, and that 
they held different opinions, one approving of the ex- 
change and the other not. The Pashas, however, 
adopted the more liberal opinion.^ 

umphe et present^ au grand Solyman, qui le fit garder fort curieusement 
et estroictment, en faisant serment sur son grand dieu Mahom (!) qu'il 
ne luy feroit jamais plus la guerre, et qu'il vieilliroit et mourroit en prison 
sans le vouloir jamais mettre h rangon ; car il stjavoit bien que le roy 
d'Espagne son maistre le rechapteroit de beaucoup. Enfin, voyant que 
pour or ny argent il ne le pouvoit faire rangonner ny avoir, il envoya 
prier avec grande suplication le roy Charles, son beau et bon frere, par le 
moyen de ceste bonne Reyne d'Espaigne sa soeur, d'envoyer une ambas- 
sade vers le Grand Seigneur pour le luy demander et le luy donner; dont 
le Roy (comme je le vis moy estant lors k la Cour) despescha aussitost 
M. le chevalier de Salvyaty, qui a est^ depuis premier escuyer de la 
reyne de Navarre, homme fort digne pour ceste charge, et fort habile, 
qu en fit I'ambassade, avec danger de sa vie, pourtant qu'il courut par 
les chemins, me diet il k son retour. Le Grand Seigneur du commance- 
ment en fit un peu de refus a ce qu'il me diet ; mais vaincu par prieres du 
Roy, il ne Ten voulut refuser, et le luy accorda pour la premiere demande 
qu'il luy avoit faicte, parce que c'estoit son avenement k la couronne : outre 
plus, luy envoya les plus belles ofTres du monde. Par ainsy ledict cheva- 
lier s'en retourna libre avec son prisonnier, qui ne pensoit rien moins k 
cela devoir k nostre Roy sa vie et sa \\\i^xv€:—Brantdme, i. 218. 

^ It is needless to point out the absurdities and gross inaccuracies of 
this account, which is given by Salviati's friend. It is contradicted by 
the despatches of the French representative at Constantinople, which 
show that Salviati's mission was a complete failure : ' Solyman ne se souve- 
nant plus de ses parolles et de ce qu'il avoit escrit au roy dernierement 
par M. le chevalier Salviati, que sa foy ne permettoit point de ddlivrer 
les chrestiens pris en bataille, accorda la delivrance desdits trois cheva- 
liers espagnols, k la premiere requeste et instance que Ferdinand luy en 
a faicte soubz ombre de cent cinquante esclaves turcqs qu'ilz ont promis 
dellivrer.'— Charriere, Negotiations de la France dans le Levant, ii. 704. 

1 ' Quant k I'aultre point des chevalliers espagnols ddlivrez, Ali me dit 
que certainement leur foy ne permettoit point d^livrer les chrestiens pris 



A FORMIDABLE ANT. 375 



I have still to tell you of Bajazet's final catastrophe, 
for I know you are expecting to hear the rest of his 
story. You will remember that he was thrown into 
prison by Shah Tahmasp. From that time many 
messengers went backwards and forwards from the 
King of Persia to the Sultan, some of whom held the 
title of Ambassador, bringing presents of the usual 
kind, such as tents of exquisite workmanship, Assyrian 
and Persian carpets, and a Koran, the book which 
contains their holy mysteries ; ^ amongst other gifts, 
rare animals were sometimes sent, for example there 
was an Indian ant,^ as large as a fair-sized dog, and 
extremely fierce and snappish, which, I remember, they 
were said to have brought. 

The ostensible reason for their arrival was to recon- 
cile Bajazet and his father; great honours were paid 
them, and they were entertained magnificently by the 
Pashas. Ali made me a partaker in one of these ban- 
quets by sending me eight large porcelain dishes of 
sweetmeats. The Romans used to send something 
from their table to their friends, a custom which the 
Spaniards retain to this day; The Turks, on the other 
hand, carry off dainties from the banquet for them- 
selves, but generally only intimate friends do so, who 
have wives and children at home. They usually 

en bataille, mais que le Grand Seigneur ayant remis ce pesch^ sur ses 
bassats, ils avoient trouvd par leur loy que pour eschange d'esclaves en 
tel nombre que las Espagnols promettent, et faire un bien public comme 
la paix, leur foy, comme par une indulgence sp^cialle, permettoit ladite 
ddlivrance.' — Charrilre, ii. 706. 

1 See page 156. 

2 These ants are mentioned first by Herodotus, iii. c. 102, where he 
gives an account of the stratagem by which the Indians steal the gold 
thrown up by them as they burrow. The most plausible conjecture is 
that which identifies this animal with the Pangolin or Ant-eater. See 
Blakesley's and Rawlinson's notes on the passage, in the latter of which 
the statement in the text is referred to, 



376 TURKISH LETTERS. 



carried home from my table handkerchiefs full of frag- 
ments of eatables, and were not afraid of soiling their 
silk robes with drops of gravy, although they consider 
cleanliness of the highest importance. When I men- 
tion this, it recalls to my memory an amusing incident, 
which I shall not be sorry to tell you. You will have 
a hearty laugh over it, I am sure, as I had myself; and 
is not laughter worth cultivating.? Is it not man's 
peculiar attribute, and the best recipe in the world for 
tempering human misfortunes .? Besides, we are no 
Catos. 

The Pashas observe the custom of giving dinner 
for a few days before their fast, which answers to our 
Lent, to all who choose to come, and no one is excluded. 
However, the people who come are generally neigh- 
bours, friends, or recognised dependants. A leather 
tablecloth, which is loaded with a crowd of dishes, is 
laid on the ground over an oblong mat. Such a table 
will hold a large company. The Pasha himself sits in 
the chief place, and about him those of higher rank, 
and then in a long row the guests who belong to 
inferior families, till no more room remains for anyone, 
and many are left standing, for the table cannot hold 
all at once. However, as they eat with great modera- 
tion and do not talk, it is not long before the first party 
have appeased their hunger, they then conclude their 
meal with a draught of water sweetened with honey 
or sugar, and, after bidding the master of the feast 
farewell, make room for others who have not yet sat 
down ; these again are succeeded by another set, till in 
a short space many are satisfied off the same table, the 
attendants in the meantime washing the plates and 
dishes, and supplying fresh ones as fast as they are 
emptied. 

A Pasha who was giving one of these entertain- 



A DISAPPOINTED GUEST. 377 

ments at his house had invited a Sanjak-bey, who 
happened to have come there, to sit by him. The 
second place from him was occupied by an old man of 
the class the Turks call Khodjas, which means Scholars. 
As he saw before him a great mass of various eatables, 
and wished, having had his fill, to take something away 
for his wife, he began looking for his handkerchief to 
put it in ; but found he had left it at home. He was, 
however, equal to the emergency, and like a good 
general was able to extemporise a plan on the field of 
battle. He seized the bag of a turban which was 
hanging down behind him ' (which, however, was not 
his own as he thought, but the Sanjak-bey's). This 
he crammed as full as he could, finishine with a o-ood 
slice of bread by way of a stopper to prevent anything 
slipping out. When he was bidding his host farewell, 
in accordance with the Turkish fashion, he had to 
salute his superiors by placing his hands on his breast 
or thighs. Having paid his respects he gathered up 
the bag again, but this time took his own, and when he 
left the dining-room, he felt it carefully all over and, to 
his utter amazement, found it empty. But what was he 
to do ? He went home in disgust. 

Not long afterwards the Sanjak-bey also rose, and 
after saluting the Pasha was going away, in happy 
ignorance of the load that was hanging behind him. 
But soon the bag began to deliver itself of its contents ; 
every step the Sanjak-bey took, something fell out, 
and his progress was marked by a long " line of frao-- 
ments. Every one began to laugh ; he then looked 
back, and his face grew crimson, when he saw his bag 
disgorging pieces of food. 

Then the Pasha, who had guessed the truth, called 

' This headdress must have resembled that of the Janissaries Busbecq 
saw at Buda. See p. 87 and note. 



378 TURKISH LETTERS. 

him back, told him to sit down, and ordered the Khodja 
to be summoned ; and turning to him said, ' As you 
are a neighbour and old friend of mine, and have a 
wife and children at home, I wonder why you did not 
carry away something for them from my table, where 
there was enough and to spare.' The Khodja replied, 
* This happened, sir, from no fault of mine, but from 
the anger of my guardian angel. For, as I had care- 
lessly left my handkerchief at home, I stuffed the 
remains of my dinner into the bag of my turban, but lo 
and behold, when I left the dining room, it proved to 
be empty, but how this came to pass is more than I 
can tell.' So the Sanjak-bey's character as a gentleman 
was re-established, and the disappointment of the old 
Khodja, and the oddness of the accident, furnished the 
bystanders with food for another merry laugh. 

But I will return to my subject. Bajazet's hopes 
were at a low ebb, for his merciless father was de- 
manding that he should be given up alive for execu- 
tion ; to this the King of Persia refused to agree and 
pretended to act as his protector, while all the time he 
intended to betray him. 

Solyman at one time tried persuasion on the Shah, 
reminding him of the treaty, by which he had agreed 
they should both have the same friends and enemies, 
and at another, endeavoured to frighten him with 
menacing language and threatened him with war, if 
Bajazet were not surrendered. He had placed strong 
garrisons in all his towns on the Persian frontier, and 
filled Mesopotamia and the bank of the Euphrates 
with soldiers, who were taken for the most part from 
the Imperial guard, and the troops he had employed 
against Bajazet. These forces were commanded by 
Mehemet Pasha, the third of the Vizierial Pashas, and 
the Beyler bey of Greece, for Selim had soon returned 



A DIPLOMATIC ANSWER. 379 

home. He also sent frequent messages to the tribes 
they call Georgians, who dwell between the Caspian 
and the Black Sea, and border on Media, urging them 
to take up arms against the King of Persia. They 
sagaciously replied that 'they had not sufficient confi- 
dence in their own strength to venture to attack Shah 
Tahmasp by themselves ; let Solyman only come with his 
army and they would know, when they saw him on the 
spot, what they ought to do. In that case they would 
be wanting neither in counsel nor in courage.' 

In another direction are still to be found five 
Turkoman chiefs descended from Tamerlane ; and 
these also were invited to join their arms against the 
common foe. 

Solyman wished it to be believed that he himself 
was going to Aleppo, a city of Syria on the banks of 
the Euphrates, 1 and that he intended from that base to 
make war on the King of Persia. Nor was the latter 
free from apprehension, as he had too often experienced 
the might of Solyman's arm. But the angry Sultan 
was completely checked by the opposition of the 
soldiers and the reluctance they felt to engaging in 
such a war. They shrank from an unnatural contest, 
and began to desert. A great number of them, 
especially of the cavalry, returned to Constantinople, 
without orders from their commanders, and when 
bidden to return to the camp without delay, though they 
obeyed, they did so in such a way as to leave it evi- 
dent how little they could be relied on, if any accident 
or change should occur. 

For this reason, when it became sufficiently clear 
to Solyman that the King of Persia would not sur- 
render Bajazet, pleading that he was afraid of delivering 
him up alive, lest by any chance he should escape, and 

1 Aleppo is really a considerable distance from the Euphrates. 



38o TURKISH LETTERS. 



live to take vengeance for the wrongs he had received, 
he decided, as the next best course, to get him executed 
in Persia. He had great hopes of prevaiHng thus far 
on the Shah ; for in the last letter he had received 
from that monarch, the latter had expressed his surprise 
at his careless method of managing such an important 
affair ; observing that he had several times sent ambas- 
sadors to him, but he, on the contrary, had sent him 
nothing but letters and messengers, conduct, which 
made him doubt if he were really in earnest. ' Let 
him,' said the Shah, 'send noblemen of high authority 
and name, with whom the negotiations might be carried 
on and concluded in a way that befitted their import- 
ance. The Sultan was much in his debt; Bajazet's 
coming had been a great injury to him, and he had 
incurred great expense before he had got him into his 
power. It was just that these circumstances should be 
taken into account.' 

Solyman saw that money was his object, and so, 
rather than involve himself in an unnecessary war, for 
which he was unfitted by his years, he determined to 
follow the Pashas' advice, and to fight the King of 
Persia with money, instead of arms. 

Hassan Aga, one of the chiefs of the eunuchs of 
the bed-chamber, was first selected as ambassador to 
Persia, and the Pasha of Marasch, a man of venerable 
years, was ordered to accompany him. About the 
middle of winter they started with the fullest powers ; 
they travelled, in spite of the difficulties of the road,' 
with the utmost speed, and at last, after losing many 
of their suite, arrived at Casbin, where the King of 
Persia was. 

They first asked leave to see Bajazet, and found 
him so disfigured by the dirt and filth of his prison, 
and with his hair and beard so long that they could 



EXECUTION OE EAJAZET. 381 

not recognise him. They were obhged to have him 
shaved, and it was only then that Hassan was able to 
identify the features of the prince. He had been 
brought up with him from his earliest years, and it was 
especially for that reason that Solyman had committed 
this office to him. 

It was agreed that the King of Persia should be 
indemnified for the loss he said he had sustained, and 
should receive in addition a present commensurate 
with the importance of the business, and that then 
Solyman should be allowed to put Bajazet to death. 

Hassan hurried back and told his master of the 
arrangement he had concluded. The present was pre- 
pared, along with the sums demanded as expenses, and 
was conveyed, under the protection of a Turkish guard, 
to the frontiers of the Persian dominions. Hassan, 
too, came again as the unfortunate Bajazet's appointed 
executioner, for Solyman had specially ordered that he 
should put him to death with his own hands. Accord- 
ingly the bow-string was put round Bajazet's neck, and 
he was strangled to death. He is said to have asked 
one boon before his death, namely, to be allowed to 
see his children and share his kisses among them as a 
last token of affection ; but this he asked in vain, being 
told ' There was other business which required his im- 
mediate attention.' ^ 

Such was the end of Bajazet's ill-starred designs, 
whose ruin was precipitated by the very efforts he 
made to avoid it. His four sons shared their father's 
fate. 

I mentioned that one, who had been lately born, 
had been left at Amasia when his father fled, and that 
he had been removed by his grandfather to Broussa, 
where he was being brought up ; but, when the Sultan 

' The date of Bajazet's death was September 25, 1561. 



2^2 Turkish letter^. 

knew it was all over with Bajazet, he sent a eunuch, 
whom he trusted, to Broussa to kill him. As the 
eunuch's own disposition was too tender, he took with 
him one of the doorkeepers, a hard-hearted ruffian who 
was capable of any atrocity, to be the child's murderer. 
When the doorkeeper entered the room, and was fitting 
the cord to the child's neck, it smiled at him, and, rais- 
ing itself as much as it could, threw up its little arms 
to give him a hug and a kiss. This so moved the 
cruel fellow that he could not bear it, and fell down in 
a swoon. The eunuch, who was waiting outside, 
wondered that he was so long, and at last going in 
himself, found the doorkeeper lying senseless on the 
ground. He could not afford to let his mission be a 
failure, and so with his own hands he stopped for ever 
the feeble breath of that innocent child. 

From this it was clear enough that the grandson 
had been spared till then, not from the mercy of his 
grandfather, but from the Turkish superstition of refer- 
ring all successful enterprises, whatever may have been 
the motive from which they were undertaken, to the 
instigation of God. On this account, as long as the 
issue of Bajazet's attempts remained doubtful, Soly- 
man determined to do no violence to the child, for fear 
that if afterwards Bajazet's fortunes should take a turn 
for the better, he should be found to have been striv- 
ing against the will of God. But now that he had 
perished, and thus had, as it were, been condemned by 
the sentence of God, he thought there was no reason 
for sparing Bajazet's son any longer, that according 
to the proverb, not an egg of that mischievous crow 
might be left. 

I once had a long argument with my cavasse on 
this subject, when I was in the islands I told you about. 
As I was returning from one of my more distant excur- 



PREDESTINA TlON. 3^3 

sions, it happened that I could not double a projecting 
point, the wind being contrary. After striving for 
some time in vain, we were obliged to disembark and 
dine there, for in case of such an accident I used 
always to take about with us in the boat some cooked 
provisions. Several Turks, who had been forced to 
land there from the same cause, followed my example. 
My table was laid in a green meadow. The cavasse 
and dragomans sat down along with me. Bajazet 
happening to be mentioned, the cavasse began to in- 
veigh against him without mercy for taking up arms 
against his brother. I on the other hand said, I 
thought he was to be pitied, because he had no choice 
except to take up arms or submit to certain death. 
But when the cavasse went on abusing him in as strong 
terms as before, I said, ' You are making out Bajazet 
guilty of a monstrous atrocity, but you do not charge 
Selim, the father of the present Sultan, with any crime, 
though he took up arms not merely to resist his father's 
will, but against his very person.' ^ ' And with good 
reason,' replied the cavasse, ' for the issue of his enter- 
prise showed clearly enough that he did what he did 
by prompting from above, and that it had been pre- 
destinated by Heaven.' I answered, ' On this principle 
you will interpret whatever has been undertaken, al- 
though from the most wicked motives, if it proves 
successful, to be done rightly, and will ascribe it to 
God's will ; and will thus make out God to be the 
author of evil, nor will you reckon anything to have 
been done well or the contrary, except by the result.' 

We continued our argument for some time, each of 
us defending his position with great spirit and in a high 
tone of voice. Many texts of Scripture were cited on 
either side, ' Can the vessel say to the potter, why hast 

' See note, page io8. 



3^4 TURKISH LETTERS. 

thou formed me thus ? ' 'I will harden Pharaoh's heart,' 
' Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,' and others, 
as they came into our heads. 

The Turks, who were a little way off, wondered 
what we were arguing about ; so, after we had risen and 
the table had been removed, the cavasse went straight 
to his countrymen. They all came round him, and he 
appeared to be haranguing them, while they listened 
with the utmost attention. Then, as it was just noon, 
they kept silence and worshipped God after their man- 
ner with foreheads bowed to the ground. The time 
seemed long to me till the cavasse came back, as I 
was anxious to know what had been the subject of his 
earnest conversation with his countrymen. I felt a 
litde afraid that he had repeated something I had said, 
and given it an unfavourable turn, although I had had 
sufficient proofs of his honesty. 

At last, when the wind had gone down, and it was 
time to embark, we went on board again, and set out 
once more. Then the first thing I did was to ask the 
cavasse what he had been talking about so earnesdy 
with his countrymen. He replied with a smile, ' I will 
honestly confess to you what it was. They wanted to 
know from me what the subject was, on which we 
had been arguing so hotly. I said, " Predestination," 
and repeated to them the texts, both those which you 
had cited on your side and those which you had recog- 
nised when quoted by me. Hence I argued that it 
was certain you had read our books, and were well 
acquainted with Holy Scripture, and that you wanted 
nothing to secure eternal happiness, except being 
initiated into our religion. Accordingly we exhorted 
each other to pray that God would bring you to the 
true faith ; and these were the prayers you saw us 
making.' 



A MESSAGE FROM ALL 385 



When the news of Bajazet's death was brought to 
Constantinople, I was seized with great alarm for the 
issue of our negotiations. We were indeed in a good 
position and there seemed to be a prospect of the end 
we desired; but our anxiety was renewed by Bajazet's 
misfortune, for fear the Turks should become more 
haughty, undo what had been done, and call on us to 
accept less favourable terms. We had successfully got 
past numerous rocks, among them the defeat at Djerbe, 
Bajazet's imprisonment, and the unlucky accident of 
the expulsion of the Voivode from Moldavia, yet two 
formidable ones remained, namely, Bajazet's death, of 
which I have spoken, and another besides, of which 
I shall speak presently. 

Ali had been the first to communicate the news to 
me, by a domestic slave, in these words, ' Know for 
certain that Bajazet is dead. You cannot now go on 
trifling with us any longer in reliance on his making a 
diversion in your favour. Remember that an old 
friendship can be restored between two princes who 
share the same faith more easily than a new one can 
be cemented between two Sovereigns of different re- 
ligions. Take my word for it, it is not safe for you to 
go on shuffling any longer and raising unreal diffi- 
culties.' 

Such a message made a deep impression on my 
mind. But, as the news came from a suspicious quarter, 
I sent round to my friends to enquire if any certain 
intelligence of Bajazet's death had arrived, and all to a 
man replied, that there remained no doubt about it. I 
then understood I must shorten sail. There was no 
possibility of aspiring to better terms ; I ought to be 
contented if I could maintain the position I had gained, 
and if no change for the worse should be made in the 
conditions. They had now been before the Sultan for 
VOL. I. c c 



386 TURKISH LETTERS. 

some time, and he had not been averse to them, subject 
to a few additions or omissions, among which however 
there were some things I was sorry to lose. Certain 
points were expressed too obscurely, so as to leave room 
for controversy hereafter, if any one were to place an 
unfair construction on them. I used my utmost efforts 
to get these either removed or altered to our advantage. 
The conditions had been once or twice sent to my Em- 
peror for his perusal, and he had graciously approved 
of them ; but I felt dissatisfied myself, and was always 
wishing to obtain some further concession, when, in the 
midst of my negotiations, the news I mentioned came 
upon me like a thunderbolt. 

But previously also a serious difficulty had arisen 
in consequence of the revolt of certain Hungarian 
nobles from the Voivode of Transylvania to the Em- 
peror, or, to speak correctly, in consequence of their 
return from error to the path of duty. They brought 
over with them the forts and castles which they held.^ 

This startling event was calculated to upset all the 
steps towards peace that had been taken. For the 
Turks were thus supplied with a plausible argument : 
' No change ought to have been made while negotia- 
tions about the terms of peace were going on. If you 
are really anxious for peace you ought to restore the 
advantage which you have unfairly gained. The 
deserters are at liberty to do as they please, but let the 
places they hold remain in the hands of the Voivode, 
our dependant and vassal.' 

However, not only was no such claim asserted by 
Ali, but when I expressly put down in the articles of 
peace that these matters should remain as they were, 
he willingly approved of their ratification. 

But the ambassadors, who had then recently arrived 

' See Sketch of Hungariati History. 



CONCLUSION OF PEACE. 387 

from the Voivode, did their utmost to chafe that sore, 
and filled the court with their outcries, exclaiming that 
their unfortunate young- master was being betrayed, 
the rights of friendship profaned, and enemies preferred 
to old friends. These remonstrances had indeed some 
effect upon the other Pashas, but not on Ali. So at 
last it was agreed to adhere to the terms of peace, as 
they had been already settled. 

Although there could be no doubt about the wishes 
of my master, yet, as I remembered that among the 
attendants of princes there never is any lack of people 
ready to blacken the good deeds of others, however 
worthy they may be, especially if they are foreigners, I 
decided that everything, as far as it could be managed, 
should be left as open as possible for his decision. 
Therefore I negotiated with Ali in such a way as to 
point out that, although the proposed conditions did not 
altogether answer my Sovereign's expectations, yet I 
was confident he would agree to them, provided that 
some one was sent with me who could explain the 
points that were obscure, or which might in any way 
be made a subject of dispute, saying that Ibrahim seemed 
the best person for the service, as he could report to 
them the Emperor's desire for peace. He readily 
agreed to this proposal, so the last touch was thus put 
to these protracted peace negotiations. 

It is the custom for the Pashas to invite to their 
table in the Divan an ambassador who is in favour 
when he leaves. But as I wished to make it appear 
that everything remained undecided and uncertain till 
a reply was brought back from my master, this honour 
was not paid me, the want of which however did not 
trouble my peace of mind.^ 

I was anxious to take with me some well-bred 

' Compare page 159. 
c c 2 



388 TURKISH LETTERS. 

horses, and therefore had charged my servants to go 
about the market frequently on the chance of being 
able to find any to suit. When Ali heard of this, he 
had a capital thorough-bred of his own brought out as 
if for sale. My men hurried up to bid for him, 120 
ducats was named as the price, and they offered eighty, 
without knowing who was the owner. The people who 
had charge of the horse refused to let him go for such 
a low price. But a day or two afterwards, the same 
horse, with two others every bit as good, was sent as 
a present by Ali Pasha, one of them being a beautifully 
shaped palfrey. When I thanked him for his present, 
he asked me if I did not think the horse, which my men 
had wanted to buy in the market for eighty ducats, was 
not worth more. I replied, ' Much more, but they had 
a commission from me not to go beyond that price, that 
I might not incur too great a loss, if they should, with- 
out knowing it, purchase some likely looking animal, 
which should afterwards prove unsound. Such things 
do sometimes happen in the horse-market' He then 
told me how Turkish horses are fed at the beginning 
of a journey, namely, with a very small allowance of 
food, and advised me to travel by very short stages, 
till the horses had got accustomed to the work, and to 
divide the journey to Adrianople into nine or ten days, 
which usually took only five. He presented me also 
with an exceedingly elegant robe interwoven with 
gold thread, and a casket full of the finest theriac of 
Alexandria,^ and lastly added a glass bottle of balsam, 
which he highly commended, saying, ' The other 
presents he had given me he did not think much of, 

' Theriac, the original form of the word treacle, is derived from drjpiov, 
i.e. a venomous serpent (see Acts xxviii. 4). It originally meant a confec- 
tion of vipers' flesh, which was popularly believed to be the most potent 
antidote to vipers' poison. Hence the word came to mean any antidote 
against poison. 



BALSAM. 389 



as money could buy them, but this was a rare gift' 
and his master could give no greater present to a 
friendly or allied prince. He had been governor of 
Egypt for some years, and thus had an opportunity of 
procuring it.' The plant produces two sorts of juice ; 
there is the cheap black extract made from the oil of 
the boiled leaves, while the other kind flows from an 
incision in the bark. This last, which is yellow and is 
the true balsam, was the one he gave me.^ 

He wished some things sent him in return, namely, 
a coat of mail large enough to fit him, as he is very 
tall and stout, and a powerful horse, to which he could 
trust himself without being afraid of a fall, for being a 
heavy man he has great difficulty in finding a horse 
equal to his weight, and lastly a piece of curled maple 
or some other wood similarly marked, with which our 
countrymen veneer tables. 

No presents were given me by Solyman, except the 
ordinary ones of the kind usually given to every am- 

' The value of this balsam is illustrated by the amusing account of the 
adventures in Ireland of Jean de Montluc, Bishop of Valence, given by 
Sir James Melville in his Memoirs (page 10, Bannatyne Club edition). 
Like his friend Busbecq (see vol. ii. p. 34, Letter to Maximilian, XI.) he had 
been ambassador at the Turkish Court, and was afterwards sent in the 
same capacity to Scotland. On his return he paid a visit to Ireland to 
intrigue with the chieftains who were hostile to England. Melville, then 
a boy of fourteen, was sent back with him by Mary of Guise, the Queen 
Regent, to be a page to her daughter Queen Mary. They landed on Shrove 
Tuesday, 1550, in Lough Foyle, and were taken to Odocarte's house. A 
woman, who had been brought to entertain the bishop, and was kept 
quietly in his chamber, ' found a little glass within a case standing in a 
window, for the coffers were all wet by the sea waves that fell in the ship 
during the storm. But she believed it had been ordained to eat, because 
it had an odoriphant smell ; therefore she licked it clean out : which 
put the bishop in such a rage that he cried out for impatience. . . . But 
the Irishmen and his own servants laughed at the matter, for it was a 
phial of the only most precious balm that grew in Egypt, which Solyman 
the great Turk had given in a present to the said bishop, after he had 
been two years ambassador for the King of France in Turkey, and was 
esteemed worth two thousand crowns.' 



39° TURKISH LETTERS. 

bassador on taking- leave, such as I had generally- 
received in former years. 

At my fare-well audience he curtly inveighed against 
the insolence of the Heydons and the soldiers of the 
garrison of Szigeth. ' What use,' said he, ' has it been 
for us to make peace here, if the garrison of Szigeth 
will break it and continue the war ? ' I replied, ' I would 
lay the matter before the Emperor, and I hoped he 
would do what was needful.' 

Thus auspiciously, towards the end of the month of 
August, I commenced my wished-for journey, bringing 
with me as the fruit of eight years' exertions a truce for 
eight years, which however it will be easy to get ex- 
tended for as long as we wish, unless some remarkable 
change should occur. 

When we arrived at Sophia, from which there is a 
road not only to Belgrade but to Ragusa, whence it is 
only a few days' passage to Venice, Leyva and Reque- 
sens asked my leave to go by Ragusa, which was their 
shortest way to Italy, for the purpose of discharging at 
the earliest possible date their obligations to the Pashas, 
and paying off the debts they had incurred at Con- 
stantinople for various purposes. They said they 
would give me letters to the Emperor to thank him for 
the recovery of their freedom, which they would have 
preferred to do in person, if they had not been hindered 
by the considerations I have mentioned. I complied 
with their wishes without hesitation, and the death of 
Requesens, which happened soon after, gave me less 
cause to regret having done so, for before he reached 
Ragusa he died, being a very old man. I am glad I 
granted him the favour, as a refusal might have been 
thought to have been partly the cause of his illness. 

De Sand6 and I accomplished the rest of the jour- 
ney very merrily, without meeting with any serious 



A MERRY JOURNEY HOME. 391 



inconvenience. De Sande was a pleasant fellow, and 
always making jokes, being quite capable, when it was 
necessary, of concealing his anxiety and assuming a 
cheerfulness he did not feel. The daily occurrences 
of our journey furnished us with many a merry jest. 
Sometimes we had a fancy to leave our carriages, and 
try which of- us could walk the longest. In this, as I 
was thin and had no load of corpulence to carry, I easily 
beat my friend, who was stout and too fat for walking, 
not to mention that the effects of his confinement still 
made him incapable of much exertion. Whenever our 
road lay through a village, it was amusing to see Ibra- 
him, who followed us very gravely on horseback with 
his Turks, riding up and entreating us by all we held 
most dear to get into our carriages again, and not to 
disgrace ourselves utterly by allowing the villagers to 
see us travelling on foot, for among the Turks this is 
considered a great dishonour. With these words he 
sometimes prevailed on us to re-enter our carriages, 
and sometimes we laughed at him and disobeyed. 

Now listen to one of de Sandy's many witty say- 
ings. When we left Constantinople, not only was the 
heat still overpowering, but I was in a languid state from 
the late hot weather, so that I had hardly any appetite 
for food, or at any rate, was satisfied with very little. 
But de Sand6, being a strong man and accustomed to 
a great deal of food, of which he always partook with 
me, used to devour rather than eat his meals, exhorting 
me from time to time to follow his example, and eat 
like a man. In this however he was unsuccessful, until, 
about the beginning of October, we were approach- 
ing the borders of Austria. There, pardy from the 
nature of the country, and partly from the time of year, 
I was refreshed by the cooler climate, and began to be 
better in health and also to eat more freely than before. 



392 TURKISH LETTERS. 



When this was observed by de Sande, he exclaimed, 
' He was amply rewarded for his trouble, the pains and 
training he had spent on me had not been thrown 
away, inasmuch as, thanks to his teaching and instruc- 
tion, I had learnt at last how to eat, though I had lived 
so many years without acquiring any knowledge of, or 
practice in, this most needful art. Let me consider 
him as much in my debt as I pleased for delivering 
him from a Turkish prison ; I was no less indebted to 
him, as it was from him I had learnt how to eat ! ' 

Amusing ourselves in this manner we arrived at 
Tolna, where we came in for a certain amount of annoy- 
ance. De Sande used to stay under the same roof 
with me, where my quarters consisted of several rooms ; 
but where there was only one he used to lodge at an 
adjoining house, that he might not inconvenience me. 
Accordingly at Tolna he ordered the Janissary, whom 
I took with me from Constantinople to Buda as my 
attendant, to look out for quarters for him. One of my 
servants and a Spanish doctor of medicine, who had 
been ransomed at de Sande's expense at Constan- 
tinople, accompanied the Janissary. They happened 
to go into a house near us, which belonged to a Janis- 
sary who had been entrusted with the charge of the 
town. For it is the custom of the Turks, in order to 
protect the Christians from the outrages of travellers, 
to appoint in each of the wealthier villages or small 
towns one or two Janissaries,^ who take advantage of 
the position in which they are thus placed, and turn it 
to their own profit in many ways. This Janissary had 
committed some fault for which he had deserved to 
lose his office ; and the fear of such a punishment hang- 
ing over his head had made him crusty, and completely 
soured his temper. Our people inspected his house 

' See p. 86. 



THE QUARREL AT TOLNA. 393 

without opposition, went all over it, and began to re- 
treat, as they did not like it. My Janissary was going- 
first, the servant was following, and the doctor was last. 
Meanwhile, the Janissary who lived there, and who 
was then in his garden, was told that Christians were 
looking for a lodging in his house. Mad with rage he 
hurried up with a stick that might have served Her- 
cules for a club, and without a word brought it down 
with all his might on the doctor's shoulders, who flew 
out of the house for fear of a repetition of the blow. 
My servant looked back, and saw behind him the 
Janissary on the point of giving him a similar greeting, 
his stick being already raised for the blow ; but this 
servant of mine, who was carrying a small hatchet in 
his hand, as people generally do in that country, seized 
the blade of it with one hand, and the end of the handle 
with the other, and holding it cross-wise over his head 
parried several blows without injury. As the other, 
however, did not stop striking, the handle of the hatchet 
began to give way, so my servant was obliged to alter 
his tactics, and closing with the Janissary aimed a blow 
at his head, but the latter did not like this change in the 
mode of fighting, and forthwith took to his heels. As 
my servant could not reach him, he flung the hatchet at 
his back as he ran away. The Janissary was wounded 
by the blow and fell ; and so our people escaped. 

In the meantime the doctor was rousing the neigh- 
bourhood with his cries, exclaiming that it was all over 
with him, he was as good as dead, and all his bones 
were broken. 

De Sande, when he heard the story, was both vexed 
and amused. He was unaffected by the doctor's ex- 
clamations, thinking he was more frightened than hurt. 
But he was tormented by a terrible anxiety, fearing 
that he would be recalled to Constantinople, and could 



394 TURKISH LETTERS. 

not be persuaded that there was not some treachery at 
the bottom of the affair. The Pashas, he thought, had 
sought an opportunity of pretending to do me a favour, 
and would soon show their real intentions, and find an 
excuse for dragging him back to Constantinople, where 
he must lie rotting in a filthy jail to the end of his days. 
He was therefore much vexed at the behaviour of my 
servant, who, instead of expressing any sorrow at the 
severe wound he had inflicted on the Janissary, swore 
that he was exceedingly sorry to hear he was still alive. 
Accordingly, he addressed him as follows, ' My good 
Henry (for that was his name), I beg you to control 
your anger. This is no place for displaying your 
courage or avenging your wrongs ; in our present 
situation it is no mark of cowardice to pocket an 
affront. Whether we will or no, we are in their power. 
Pray, remember how much mischief this ill-timed 
passion of yours may bring on us ; we may in con- 
sequence be all brought back to Constantinople, and 
everything that has been done may be undone, or at 
any rate, unsettled, the result of which will be fresh 
worries and endless trouble. I beg you another time, 
if you have no regard for your own safety, for my sake 
at any rate, to control yourself more.' 

But his remonstrances fell on deaf ears. Henrv 
was a man of obstinate disposition, and when angered, 
most unreasonable. ' What would it have mattered to 
me,' he answered, 'even if I had killed him ? Had he 
not resolved to murder me ? if but one of all the 
blows he aimed at my head had reached me, he had 
butchered me like a sheep. The idea of my being 
guilty for slaying a man, who was endeavouring to kill 
me ! I am desperately sorry for one thing, and that 
is, that I do not fee'l quite sure that he will not recover 
from my blow.' Then he swore he would spare no 



IBRAHIM AND THE JANISSARY. 395 

Turk, who wanted to wound him, but would, at all 
hazards, do his best to kill him. De Sande did not 
approve of these sentiments. 

The Janissary, having received the wound I men- 
tioned, made it out to be worse than it was. Two Jews, 
who were acquainted with the Spanish tongue, came 
to me, saying that the Janissary was in great danger ; 
I must give him some compensation, or else I should 
hear more of it ; much trouble was in store for me on 
this account. I replied as I thought politic. 

But as I knew the Turkish habit of brinfring false 
accusations, I considered it better to be beforehand 
with them. I immediately asked Ibrahim, through a 
servant, to lend me one of his suite, to escort one of 
my men to Constantinople, saying that the case was 
urgent. Ibrahim wondered what the reason could be, 
and came to me at once. I said that I must ask Ali 
Pasha to have more trustworthy precautions taken for 
my safety on the journey, otherwise I could not feel 
confident of reaching the borders of my country un- 
injured, as two of my suite had been within an inch of 
being murdered. I then told him what had happened. 
Ibrahim understood how closely the affair concerned 
himself, and asked me to have the patience to wait a 
few moments, and immediately went across the road to 
the Janissary, whom he found in bed. He rated him 
soundly for behaving in such a way to my people ; 
saying ' we were returning, after peace had been con- 
cluded, in high favour with Solyman and all the 
Pashas. None of my requests had been denied me, 
and many concessions had been made unasked ; he 
himself had been attached to me as my companion on 
the journey to take care that proper respect was paid 
to me everywhere. The Janissary had been the first 
person found to do us any injury, and that I wished 



396 TURKISH LETTERS. 

to send to Constantinople to complain about it. If 
this were done, the Janissary well knew what the 
consequences would be.' 

By this speech not only was the Janissary's comb 
cut, but it was now his turn to be frightened. 

On the following day we pursued our journey 
towards Buda, the doctor being as nimble as before in 
spite of his terrible bruises. When we were just in 
sight of Buda, by order of the Pasha some of his house- 
hold came to meet us, along with several cavasses ; 
a crowd of young men on horseback formed the 
most remarkable part of our escort on account of the 
strangeness of their attire, which was as follows. They 
had cut a long line in the skin of their bare heads, 
which were for the most part shaved, and inserted in 
the wound an assortment of feathers ; though dripping 
with blood they concealed the pain and assumed a gay 
and cheerful bearing, as if they felt it not. Close before 
me were some of them on foot, one of whom walked 
with his bare arms a-kimbo, both of which he had 
pierced above the elbow with a Prague knife. Another, 
who went naked to the waist, had stuck a bludgeon in 
two slits he had made in his skin above and below his 
loins, whence it hung as if from a girdle. A third had 
fixed a horse's hoof with several nails on the top of his 
head. But that was old, as the nails had so grown into 
the flesh, that they were quite immovable. 

With this escort we entered Buda, and were con- 
ducted to the Pasha, who conversed with me for some 
time about the observance of the truce, with de Sande 
standing by. The company of young men, who 
showed such strange proofs of their indifference to 
pain, took up a position inside the threshold of the 
court-yard, and when I happened to look in that direc- 
tion, the Pasha asked me what I thought of them. 



DE SANDE'S GRATITUDE. 397 

' Capital fellows,' I replied, ' save that they treat their 
skin in a way that I should not like to treat my clothes ! ' 
The Pasha laughed and dismissed us. 

On the next day we came to Gran, and proceeded 
from there to Komorn, which is the first fortress of liis 
Imperial Majesty, and stands on the river Waag. On 
either bank of the river the garrison of the place with 
the naval auxiliaries, who are there called Nassadistas, 
was awaiting us. Before I crossed, de Sande embraced 
me and thanked me once more for the recovery of his 
freedom, disclosing at the same time the anxiety he 
had so long kept a secret. He told me frankly, that 
up to this time he had been under the belief that the 
Turks could not be acting in good faith in the business, 
and therefore had been in perpetual fear that he would 
have to go back to Constantinople, and end his days 
in a dungeon. Now at last he felt that he was not to be 
cheated of tht; liberty he owed me, for which he would 
be under the deepest obligations to me to his last breath.^ 

A few days afterwards we reached Vienna. At 
that time the Emperor Ferdinand was at the Diet of 
the Empire with his son Maximilian, whose election as 
King of the Romans was then proceeding. I informed 
the Emperor of my return and of Ibrahim's arrival, 
asking his pleasure concerning him, for he was anxious 
to be conducted to Frankfort. 

The Emperor at first replied, that he thought it more 
advisable that the Turks should await his return at 
Vienna, deeming it impolitic that men of so hostile a 
nation should be conducted all the way from Vienna to 
Frankfort through the heart of the Empire. 

But it was tedious to wait, and might have given 

^ Here we part from the gallant Spaniard. For his future career see 
note p. 317. He was finally Governor of Oran, ' oil il a finy ses jours fort 
vieux et casse.' — Brantome, i. 219. 



398 TURKISH LETTERS. 

the Turks many grounds for suspicion, and there was 
no cause for alarm, if Ibrahim with his suite should 
travel through the most flourishing part of the Empire ; 
on the contrary, it was desirable that he should thereby 
form a just estimate of its strength and greatness, and, 
most of all, that he should see at Frankfort how unani- 
mous the chief princes of the Empire were in electing 
Maximilian as his father's successor. 

When I had laid these arguments before the Em- 
peror, he gave his consent to Ibrahim and his atten- 
dants being conducted to Frankfort. So we set out on 
our journey thither by Prague, Bamberg, and Wurzburg. 
Ibrahim was unwilling to pass through Bohemia 
without paying his court to the Archduke Ferdinand ; 
but the Archduke did not think fit to grive him an 
audience, except incognito. 

When I was only a few days' journey from Frank- 
fort, I decided to precede the Turks by one or two days, 
that I might, before they arrived, inform the Emperor 
about certain matters connected with my embassy. I 
therefore took post, and arrived at Frankfort the eve of 
the day, on which seven years before I had commenced 
my second journey from Vienna to Constantinople. I 
was received by my most gracious Emperor with a 
warmth and indulgence which was due not to my own 
poor merits, but to the natural kindness of his character. 
You may imagine how much I enjoyed, after so many 
years, seeing my Master not only alive and well, but 
also in the utmost prosperity. He treated me in a 
manner betokening his high satisfaction at the way in 
which I had discharged the duties of the embassy, 
thanked me for my long services, expressed his com- 
plete approval of the result of my negotiations, loaded 
me with tokens of his esteem, and, in short, bestowed 
on me every possible mark of favour. 



MAXIMILIAN'S CORONATION. 399 

On the day before the coronation (November 29, 
N.S.), Ibrahim arrived at Frankfort very late in the 
evening, after the gates of the town had been shut, 
which according to ancient custom are not allowed to be 
opened the whole of the following day. But his Im- 
perial Majesty gave express orders that the gates should 
be opened for the Turks the next day. A place was 
assigned them from which they could see the Emperor 
elect passing, with the whole of the show and procession. 
It appeared to them a grand and magnificent spectacle, 
as indeed it was. There were pointed out, among 
the others who accompanied the Emperor to do hini 
honour, three Dukes, those of Saxony, Bavaria, and 
Juliers,' each of whom could, from his own resources, 
put a regular army in the field ; and many other things 
were explained to them about the strength, dignity, 
and grandeur of the Empire. 

A few days afterwards Ibrahim had an audience of 
the Emperor, related the reasons of his coming, and 
presented to him such gifts as are considered the most 
honourable among the Turks. After the peace had 
been ratified, the Emperor honoured him with mao-ni- 
ficent presents, and sent him back to Solyman. 

I am still detained here by my private affairs, 
though longing to fly from the court and return home. 
For, indeed, the life of a court is by no means to my 
liking. Full well do I know its cares. Beneath its 
gaudy show lurk endless miseries. In it deceit abounds, 

' The then Duke, or rather Elector, of Saxony, was Augustus the Pious 
who succeeded his brother, the famous Maurice, in 1553, and died in 
1586. The Duke of Bavaria was Albert III., surnamed the Magnani- 
mous, who reigned from 1550 to 1579. His wife was a daughter of Fer- 
dinand. William the Rich was then Duke of Juliers, Cleves and Berg 
&c. He reigned from 1539 to 1592, and he also had married a dauo-hter 
of Ferdinand. He was younger brother of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII.'s 
fourth wife. 



400 TURKISH LETTERS. 



and sincerity is rare. There is no court which is not 
haunted by envy, in which it is not vain to seek for 
friendship that can be trusted, and in which there is not 
cause to fear a change of favour and a sudden fall. For 
even monarchs themselves are human. I have seen a 
man, who had entered the palace escorted by a hundred 
friends, return home with hardly a single companion, on 
account of the Sovereign's displeasure. A court does not 
recognise real merit till too late, but is guided by mere 
shadows, such as rumour, outward appearances, intrigues 
and popular mistakes, so that I should not hesitate to 
call those fortunate, who have been granted a speedy 
and happy release from its annoyances. To be able 
to live for oneself and literature, and to grow old in 
some quiet country nook, with a few honest friends, is 
indeed an enviable lot. If there is any true life to be 
found in this earthly pilgrimage, surely it must be this. 
Far too often in a court is a buffoon of rank valued 
more highly than a man of merit ; indeed a picture of 
an ass among monkeys gives an excellent notion of the 
position of an honest man among courtiers. 

It is of ordinary courts that I speak. For I freely 
admit that many courts, and especially this one, derive 
lustre from the presence of men of distinction in every 
walk of life, who shed around them a glorious light. 
Be this as it may, I prefer a peaceful retired life, with 
plenty of time for reading, to the throng and tumult of 
a court. But, though I long to depart, I am afraid my 
most gracious Sovereign may detain me, or at any rate 
summon me back, when I have reached my retirement 
at home. He has consented to my departure, it is true, 
but only on condition of my returning if recalled. But 
if this occurs (for who could refuse the courteous 
request of a Sovereign who is able to command, and 
to whom one owes so much ?) then one consolation 



PANEG YRIC OF FERDINAND. 401 



will be left me, namely, that it will be granted me to gaze 
upon the most Sacred Person of my Emperor, or, to 
express it better, upon the living image of real virtue. 
. For I assure you my master is the noblest prince 
on whom the sun ever shone. His character and his 
virtues give him a claim to empire such as few have 
ever possessed. Supreme power must everywhere 
command respect, even when held by unworthy hands, 
but to deserve supreme power and to be fit to wield 
It, IS, in my judgment, a far more glorious thing. 

I speak not therefore of his birth, nor of his illus- 
trious ancestors ; his greatness requires no extraneous 
support, but can stand on its own merits; it is his 
personal virtues and his personal fitness for his high 
station that strike me most forcibly. 

There have been many bad Emperors, who did 
not deserve to be elevated to such a pinnacle of power ; 
but, of all the Emperors that ever lived, not one has 
merited that dignity more than my master. 

Again, how many originally upright and faultless 
characters when raised to power, have been quickly 
corrupted by their freedom from restraint and by the 
temptations of a court, and have plunged headlong 
mto every form of vice. They forgot they were mortal, 
and conceiving arrogant thoughts beyond the limits of 
human ambition, they claimed to be elevated to heaven, 
and ranked among the gods, while all the time they 
were unworthy to be reckoned among men. 

But {^^N men's necks can bear the load of an exalted 
lot ; many sink beneath it, and when placed in a high 
position forget themselves. It is a hard trial to have 
unlimited power, and yet to curb one's desires. 

There is none whose eyes have been less dazzled 
than my master's by the splendour of high position, 
and no one has kept a firmer hold on virtue, or guarded 

VOL. I. D D 



402 TURKISH LETTERS. 

more diligently'against his naturally upright disposition 
being corrupted by the temptations to which royalty is 
exposed. He has always felt, that those who shine 
before men in the glory of exalted rank ought to in- 
fluence their minds to good by the purity of their lives. 

He is most zealous for religion, and piously serves 
and worships God, always living as if he were in His 
immediate presence, measuring all his actions by His 
law, and thereby governing his whole life. Whether 
in prosperity or adversity, he recognises the Hand 
which gives and takes away. In short, while still on 
earth he leads a life such as saints in heaven may lead. 

He feels intensely the seriousness of his position. 
All his words and actions have the common weal for 
their object, and he ever makes his personal interests 
subordinate to his subjects' welfare. So much is this 
the case that some people accuse him of sacrificing the 
legitimate claims of his household and his children to 
the welfare of the state. 

To those about him he shows every possible kind- 
ness, and treats us all as if he were responsible for our 
welfare, and, in fact, were the father of every member 
of his vast household. Who is there who has implored 
his protection in vain, when he needed assistance, or 
has not had proof of his generosity ? He thinks 
every day lost in which he has not benefited some 
one ; and, while he welcomes every one with the 
greatest affection, towards the members of his house- 
hold he is especially gracious. Among them there is 
no one who can complain of being neglected or passed 
over ; he knows by heart the life, habits, merits, and 
even the name, of everyone, however low his rank may 
be. Mighty prince as he is, when he sees them leading 
careless and unbecoming lives, he does not hesitate, at 
a fitting opportunity, to remind them of their duty and 



THE GOOD EMPEROR. 403 



rebuke them ; and, if they reform, to praise and reward 
them. Therefore, when they leave his presence, they 
declare that they find the Emperor not a master, but a 
father. 

It is also his constant practice, when he has pun- 
ished their errors by his displeasure for some days, 
after he has pardoned them, to restore them to exactly 
their former position, blotting out from his memory all 
recollection of their fault. 

He lays down the law most uprightly, and as stricdy 
for himself as for others. For he does not think he 
has the right of disregarding himself the rules he pre- 
scribes for others, or of allowing himself a license which 
he punishes in them. 

He keeps his passions under control, and confines 
them within the limits of reason. Hatred, anger, and 
harsh language are strangers to him. No man alive 
has heard him disparage another ; not even those whom 
he knows to be unjust to himself He has never said 
a harsh word of any one, nor does he ever speak ill of 
people behind their backs. 

Beneath his protection goodness is secure ; malice, 
violence, deceit, dishonesty, all vices in a word, fly from 
his presence, and crimes and outrages receive the pun- 
ishment they deserve. 

The Romans had their censors appointed to regu- 
late morals, and to keep the nation firm in the path 
of duty and the customs of their sires, but among us no 
censor is required, as the life of our Sovereign supplies 
his place. His bright example shows us what to follow 
and what to avoid. 

He is extremely kind towards men of worth and 
learning, who are trained in the pursuits which do the 
State good service. In dealing with men of this de- 
scription he lays aside his royalty and treats them, not 



D D 2 



404 TURKISH LETTERS. 

as a master, but as an intimate friend on a footing of 
perfect equality, as one who would be their companion 
and rival in striving after what is right, making no 
distinction between those who owe their high position 
to the credit they derive from the glory of their ances- 
tors, and those who have been elevated by their own 
merits and have proved their worth. With them he 
enjoys passing the time he has to spare from business, 
which, however, is but little. These are the men he 
values, holding, as he does, that it is of great public im- 
portance that merit should occupy the position which is 
its due. 

He is naturally eager for information, and desirous 
of knowing everything worthy of a human being's at- 
tention, and therefore always has some subject about 
which he wishes to hear the opinion of men of learning, 
from time to time interposing some shrewd and pointed 
observation of his own, to the great admiration of his 
hearers. Thus he has acquired no mean store of use- 
ful information, so that it is impossible to ask him a 
question on any subject with which he is wholly un- 
acquainted. 

He knows several languages. Spanish, as his 
mother tongue, takes the first place, then come French, 
German, Latin, and Italian. Although he can express 
anything he means in Latin, yet he has not learnt it so 
accurately as not to infringe, at times, the rules of gram- 
mar, a fault to be blamed in a man of letters, but not, 
in my humble judgment, to be hardly criticised in an 
Emperor.^ 

1 Ferdinand might have defended himself by the example of his pre- 
decessor Sigismund. See the story in Carlyle's Frederick the Great, 
i. 187, of his speech at the Council of Constance. "'Right Reverend 
Fathers, date operam ut ilia nefanda schisma eradicetur,' exclaimed Sigis- 
mund, intent on having the Bohemian schism well dealt with,— which he 
reckons to be of the feminine gender. To which a Cardinal mildlv re- 



A TERRIBLE ADVERSARY. 405 



No one will deny that what I have said so far is 
true, but perchance some will regret that he has not 
paid more attention to warlike enterprises, and won his 
laurels on the battle-field. The Turks, such an one 
will say, have now for many years past been playing 
the tyrant in Hungary, and wasting the land far and 
wide, while we do not give any assistance worthy of 
our name. Long ago ought we to have marched 
against them, and allowed fortune by one pitched 
battle to decide which was to be master. Such persons, 
I grant, speak boldly, but I question if they speak pru- 
dently. Let us go a little deeper into the matter. My 
opinion is that we should judge of the talents of gene- 
rals or commanders rather from their plans than from 
results. Moreover, in their plans they ought to take 
into account the times, their own resources, and the 
nature and power of the enemy. If an enemy of 
an ordinary kind, with no great prestige, should 
attack our territories, I frankly confess it would be 
cowardly not to march against him, and check him 
by a pitched battle, always supposing that we could 
bring into the field a force equal to his. But if the 
enemy in question should be a scourge sent by the 
wrath of God (as was Attila of yore, Tamerlane in 
the memory of our grandfathers, and the Ottoman 
Sultans in our own times), against whom nothing can 
stand, and who levels to the ground every obstacle in 
his way ; to oppose oneself to such a foe with but 
scanty and irregular troops would, I fear, be an act 
so rash as to deserve the name of madness. 

Against us stands Solyman, that foe whom his own 
and his ancestors' exploits have made so terrible ; he 

marking, ' Domine, srhisma est generis neutrius (Schisma is neuter, your 
Majesty),' Sigismund loftily replies, ' Ego sum Rex Romanus et super 
grammaticam (I am King of the Romans, and above Grammar) ! ' " 



4o6 TURKISH LETTERS. 



tramples the soil of Hungary with 200,000 horse, he is 
at the very gates of Austria, threatens the rest of Ger- 
many, and brings in his train all the nations that extend 
from our borders to those of Persia. The army he 
leads is equipped with the wealth of many kingdoms. 
Of the three regions, into which the world is divided, 
there is not one that does not contribute its share to- 
wards our destruction. Like a thunderbolt he strikes, 
shivers, and destroys everything in his way. The 
troops he leads are trained veterans, accustomed to 
his command ; he fills the world with the terror of 
his name. Like a raging lion he is always roaring 
around our borders, trying to break in, now in this 
place, now in that. On account of much less danger 
many nations, attacked by superior forces, have left 
their native lands and sought new habitations. When 
the peril is small, composure deserves but little praise, 
but not to be terrified at the onset of such an enemy, 
while the world re-echoes with the crash of kingdoms 
falling in ruins all around, seems to me to betoken a 
courage worthy of Hercules himself.^ Nevertheless, the 
heroic Ferdinand with undaunted courage keeps his 
stand on the same spot, does not desert his post, and 
stirs not an inch from the position he has taken up. 
He would desire to have such strength that he could, 
without being charged with madness and only at his 
own personal risk, stake everything on the chance of a 
battle ; but his generous impulses are moderated by 
prudence. He sees what ruin to his own most faithful 
subjects and, indeed, to the whole of Christendom 
would attend any failure in so important an enterprise, 
and thinks it wrong to gratify his private inclination at 
the price of a disaster ruinous to the state. He reflects 
w^hat an unequal contest it would be, if 25,000 or 30,000 

1 An allusion to Horace, Odes, iii. 3, i-io. 



CESAR'S OPINION. 407 

infantry with the addition of a small body of cavalry 
should be pitted against 200,000 cavalry supported by 
veteran infantry. The result to be expected from such 
a contest is shown him only too plainly by the examples 
of former times, the routs of Nicopolis and Varna, and 
the plains of Mohacz, still white with the bones of 
slaughtered Christians.^ 

A general must be a novice indeed, who rushes into 
battle without reckoning up his own strength or that of 
the enemy. And then what follows when too late ? 
Why, simply that excuse, unpardonable in a general, 
which is ushered in by the words, ' But I never 
thought '"^ . . . . 

It makes an enormous difference what enemy we 
have to encounter ; I should not ask you to accept this 
assertion if it were not supported by the evidence of 
the greatest generals. Caesar, indeed, the greatest 
master of the art of war that ever existed, has abund- 
antly demonstrated how much depends on this, and 
has ascribed to the good fortune of Lucullus and 
Pompey that they met with such cowardly enemies, and 
on this account won their laurels at a cheap and easy 
rate. On the only occasion that he met with such a foe 
in Pharnaces, speaking as if in jest of an exploit, which 
had cost him no pains, and therefore deserved no praise, 

^ In the battle of Nicopolis, A.D. 1396, Bajazet defeated Sigismund, 
King of Hungary (afterwards Emperor), and a confederate army of 100,000 
Christians, who had proudly boasted that if the sky should fall, they would 
uphold it on their lances. Among them was John, Count of Nevers, 
son of PhiHppe-le-Hardi, Duke of Burgundy, afterwards the Duke 
known as Jean Sans-Peur, who led a contingent of French knights. In 
the battle of Varna, a.d. 1444, Ladislaus, King of Hungary and Poland, 
was defeated, and killed by Sultan Amurath II. For Mohacz, see Sketch 
of Hungarian History. 

" Compare Camoens: ' Eu nunca louverei o general que diz " Eu nao 
cuidei." — I will never praise the general who excuses himself by saying, 
'' I thought not." ' 



4o8 TURKISH LETTERS. 



he showed the easiness of his victory by his despatch, 
' Veni, vidi, vici.' He would not say the same thing 
if he were now-a-days to wage war with those nations ; 
in his time they were enervated and made effeminate 
by luxury, but now they lead a frugal and hardy 
life, are enured to hunger, heat, and cold, and are 
trained by continual toil and a rigorous system of 
discipline to endure every hardship and to welcome 
every danger. 

It is not without reason that Livy argues, that Alex- 
ander of Macedon would have made war with far 
different results, if he had had the Romans for enemies, 
instead of the Persians or the unwarlike Indians. It 
is one thing to make war with warlike nations, and 
another to fight with peoples ruined by luxury or 
unaccustomed to arms. Among the Persians mere 
numbers were much thought of, but in dealing with 
those same Persians it proved to be more trouble to 
slaughter than to conquer them. I consider Hannibal's 
three victories, at the Trebia, Lake Thrasimene, and 
Carmae, are to he placed far above all the exploits of 
Alexander. Why so .? the former won his successes 
over famous warriors, the latter had the effeminate 
nations of Asia to contend with. 

Fabius Maximus had no less courage than T. Sem- 
pronms, C. Flaminius, or Varro, but more sagacity. 
That prudent general knew that he must not rashly 
hazard everything against an enemy brought up in 
the camp, whose whole life had been passed in arms, 
who had been trained in the school of great com- 
manders, who was distinguished by so many trophies, 
and attended by some extraordinary destiny or good 
fortune ; delay and opportunity were absolutely neces- 
sary to make his defeat a possibility. When he had 
to contend with such an enemy, the only hope he had 



FABIAN TACTICS. 409 



left was to avoid a battle, until there was a chance 
of fighting with success. Meanwhile he had to stand 
up against the foe, keep him in check, and harass 
him. In this Fabius was so successful, that perhaps 
he is entitled to quite as much credit for defeating 
Hannibal as Scipio himself, although the latter won 
the final victory. For who can tell whether Scipio 
would have had an opportunity of conquering at Zama, 
if Fabius had not checked Hannibal's victorious career ? 
Nor should a victory won by strategy be thought less 
of than one gained by force. The former has nothing 
in common with animals, the latter has. 

The Emperor Ferdinand's plan was the same as 
that of Fabius Maximus, and accordingly, after weigh- 
ing his own strength and that of Solyman, he came to 
the conclusion that it would be the height of bad een- 
eralship to tempt fortune, and encounter in a pitched 
battle the attack of so mighty an enemy. There was 
another course open to him, namely, to endeavour to 
check his inroad by the same means as we should use 
to stay the overflow of a swollen stream, and accordingly 
he directed all his energies to the construction of walls, 
ditches, and other fortifications. 

It is forty years, more or less, since Solyman at the 
beginning of his reign, after taking Belgrade, crushing 
Hungary, and slaying King Louis, made sure of ob- 
taining not only that province but also those beyond ; 
in this hope he besieged Vienna, and renewing the 
war reduced Giins, and threatened Vienna again, but 
that time from a distance. Yet what has he accom- 
plished with his mighty array of arms, his boundless 
resources and innumerable soldiery ? Why, he has not 
made one single step in Hungary in advance of his 
original conquest. He, who used to make an end of 
powerful kingdoms in a single campaign, has won, as 



4IO TURKISH LETTERS. 



the reward of his invasions, ill-fortified castles or incon- 
siderable villages, and has paid a heavy price for what- 
ever fragments he has gradually torn off from the vast 
bulk of Hungary. Vienna he has certainly seen once, 
but as it was for the first, so it was for the last time.^ 

Three things Solyman is said to have set his heart 
on, namely, to see the building of his mosque finished 
(which is indeed a costly and beautiful work),^ by restor- 
ing the ancient aqueducts to give Constantinople an 
abundant supply of water, and to take Vienna. In 
two of these things his wishes have been accomplished, 
in the third he has been stopped, and I hope will be 
stopped. Vienna he is wont to call by no other name 
than his disgrace and shame. 

But I return to the point from which I made this 
digression, namely, that I do not hesitate to claim for 
Ferdinand a foremost place among generals, inasmuch 
as, with resources wholly inadequate to the occasion, he 
has never quailed, but for many a long year has, with 
marvellous fortitude, sustained the attacks of a foe of no 
ordinary kind. He has preserved a large portion of 
Hungary for better days ; a greater feat in my eyes 
than many a triumph won under favourable circum- 
stances over conquered kings and vanquished nations. 
The greater his need at the critical hour, the brighter 
his courage shone. Of course I cannot expect those 
to appreciate his conduct who think that everythino- 
ought to be risked in a single action, without the 
slightest regard to the time, the circumstances, or the 

' See Sketch of Hungarian History. 

2 The Suleimanyeh, or mosque of Solyman, is the most glorious master- 
piece of Ottoman architecture. It is built after the pattern of St. Sophia, 
and was intended to surpass it. As regards the regularity of the plan, 
the perfection of the individual parts, and the harmony of the whole, that 
intention appears to have been fully attained. It was begun in 1550 and 
finished in 1555. 



A STOUT DEFENCE. 411 

strength of the foe. But to anyone else it must seem 
well nigh miraculous, that a realm so open and exposed 
as that of Hungary, and one so torn by civil war, should 
be capable of being defended so long, and should not 
have altogether passed under the yoke of its powerful 
assailant. That so much has been done is wholly 
owing to God's special mercy, and under Him to the 
ceaseless toil and anxious care of this most prudent 
monarch. 

In this task what difficulties had he not to en- 
counter, each more grievous than the preceding ! 
The enemy was in sight, his friends were far off; the 
succours his brother Charles sent came from a distance 
and arrived too late ; Germany, although nearest to 
the conflagration, was weary of supplying aid ; the 
hereditary states were exhausted by their contributions ; 
the ears of many Christian princes were deaf to his 
voice when he demanded assistance ; though the mat- 
ter was one of vital importance to them, it was about the 
last they were likely to attend to. And so at one time, by 
his own valour, with the forces he could gather from 
Hungary, Austria, and Bohemia, at another, by the 
resources of the Empire, at another, by hiring Spanish 
or Italian troops, he held his ground, though at vast 
cost. By a line of garrisons he has protected the frontiers 
of Hungary, which extend for fifteen days' journey, for 
he is obliged always to keep some troops embodied, 
even during a time of truce. For at times there are 
truces ; and he condescends, when there is fear of the 
Sultan's attack, and he has no other means of stopping 
him, to send ambassadors and presents to appease his 
wrath, as the best chance of saving the necks of the 
unfortunate Hungarians from the coming storm. 

It is ridiculous to suppose that a man thus engaged 
can enjoy a good night's rest. For the benefit of the 



412 Turkish letters. 



state he must forego sleep. Affairs so weighty demand 
continual watchfulness, and great anxiety. You may 
think It is a panegyric I am composing, but I am writ- 
mg my letter with strict historical accuracy. 

To manage these affairs he has ministers, few 
indeed, but good. The leading men among them, 
whom perhaps you have heard of, are John von 
Trautson and Rodolph von Harrach,^ both of whom 
are persons of singular loyalty and prudence. 

I will conclude with a few details of his private life. 
He rises at five, even in the severest winter months, 
and after prayers and hearing mass retires to the 
council chamber, where he devotes himself to public 
business until it is time for dinner. He is occupied 
the same way in the afternoon till supper. When I 
say supper, I mean, not his own, but that of his 
councillors, for he never touches supper himself, and 
does not take food more than once a day and then 
sparingly ; nor does he indulge more freely in drink- 
ing, being content to finish his dinner with two 
draughts of wine. Since he lost his wife, no other 
woman has been allowed to take her place. He does 
not care for jests and the amusements by which many 
are attracted. Fools, jugglers, buffoons, parasites, the 
darhngs, but also the curses, of ordinary courts, are 
banished from his palace. He avoids leisure, and is 
never idle. If, which is an unusual event, he has any 
time to spare from business, he devotes it, as I pre- 
viously mentioned, to conversations with men of worth 
and learning, which he greatly enjoys. In particular, 

1 Johann Trautson von Matray, Freiherr von Sprechenstein, &c., de- 
scended from an ancient Tyrolese family, was Governor of the Tyrol 
and Privy Councillor and Lord High Chamberlain to Ferdinand, who 
created him a Baron. Leonard von Harrach, a member of an ancient 
Bohemian family, Privy Councillor and Court Chancellor of Ferdinand is 
probably the person meant. ' 



FERDINAND'S PRIVATE LIFE. 413 

they stand by him at dinner, and talk with him on 
various topics. 

You may be sure that not many of his subjects 
would wish to change their mode of life for his, which 
is so frugal and severe. For how rarely can you find 
a man who does not devote some fraction of his life 
to pleasure ? Who would cheerfully endure the loss 
of all his amusements ? Who would not be disgusted 
at spending his last years in the midst of unceasing 
business and anxieties — a condition which more resem- 
bles slavery than sovereignty ? But the Emperor is of 
a different opinion, and when talking with his friends 
is wont to say, that ' it is not for his own sake that he has 
been appointed by God to so important an office ; the 
helm of empire has not been entrusted to him that he 
may wallow in pleasures and amusements ; the terms on 
which private fortunes are inherited are far different 
from those which regulate the succession to kingdoms 
and empires. No one is forbidden to use and enjoy 
the advantages of his patrimony, but all these numerous 
nations have been committed by God to his charge, 
that he may take care of them and bear the toil, while 
they enjoy the fruits of his labours ; that he may en- 
dure the burden and heat of the day, while rest and 
peace are secured for them.' 

Hunting is the only amusement of which he ever par- 
takes, and that not so much for the sake of pleasure as of 
health. For, when he feels his mind and body require 
bracing after a long spell of sedentary work, he chooses 
a day to refresh himself by out-of-door exercise and 
plenty of fresh air. On such occasions, very early in 
the morning, in summer at daybreak, in winter some 
hours before sunrise, he goes out to hunt, whatever the 
weather may be. Sometimes, however, only the after- 
noon is devoted to this occupation. I remember once 



414 TURKISH LETTERS. 



hearing him say, when I was standing by him at dinner, 
' I have done all my work, I have finished all my busi- 
ness, I have come to the bottom of my despatch-box, 
there is nothing left in the chancery to keep me ; the 
rest of the day I will spend in bodily exercise.' And 
so he returns home, when the night is already advanced, 
delighted at having killed a boar, or a stag, or, some- 
times, even a bear, and without taking any food or 
drink, composes himself to sleep, all wearied by his 
various exertions. 

It is absurd, therefore, for anyone to look back with 
regret on Trajan, Verus, and Theodosius, and to wish 
that such wonderful Emperors were living in our times. 
I seriously and solemnly declare, that I believe there is 
more real merit in my master than in the three of them 
put together. 

But my admiration for so great a man is carrying 
me away too far. It is not my design to speak of his 
merits as they deserve ; that would require a volume, 
not a letter, and would call for talents and faculties that 
are far beyond me, but, as I have narrated my other ad- 
ventures to you, I wished that you should not remain~ 
in ignorance of the character of the Emperor I serve. 
I shall conclude with that which is the universal prayer 
with regard to the saint and champion of our age— 
' Serus in coelum redeat.' 

As to your inquiries about Greek books and your 
writing that you hear I have brought back many 
curiosities and some rare animals, there is nothing 
among them that is much worth mentioning. I have 
brought back a very tame ichneumon, an animal cele- 
brated for its hatred to the crocodile and asp, and 
the internecine war it wages with them. I had also 
a remarkably handsome weasel, of the kind called 
sables, but I lost him on the journey. I also brought 



ANIMALS AND CURIOSITIES. 415 

with me several beautiful thoroughbred horses, which 
no one before me has done, and six she-camels. I 
brought back some drawings of plants and shrubs, 
which I am keeping for Mattioli,^ but as to plants 
and shrubs themselves I have few or none. For 
I sent him many years ago the sweet flag (Acorus 
calamus^) and many other specimens. Carpets too, 
and linen embroidered in Babylonian fashion, swords, 
bows, and horse-trappings, and many nicknacks ele- 
gantly made of leather, which is generally horse leather, 
and other trifling specimens of Turkish workman- 
ship I have, or rather, to speak more correctly, I 

> Mattioli or Matthioli, an Italian physician, was one of the founders 
of modern botany. He was born at Siena in 1500, and died at Trent in 
1577. He was educated at Venice and Padua, and afterwards lived at 
Siena and Rome, but was compelled by the sack of the latter city to 
retire to Trent, from which he removed to Goritz. In 1562 he was sum- 
moned by Ferdinand to his Court, where for ten years he was first phy- 
sician to Maximilian. His most celebrated work is his Dioscoridcs and 
his Commentary on that author. In this he made especial use of two 
MSS. discovered at Constantinople by his intimate friend Busbecq, one 
of which is presently mentioned in the text. 

Mattioli in his Commentaries, continually refers to the specimens and 
information he had received from Quacquelben, Busbecq's physician. He 
gives a figure and description of the Acorus, the plant mentioned in the 
text, which Busbecq had had collected for him from the Lakeof Nico- 
media, and also mentions the Napellus under the head of Aconite. Ap- 
parently there were two species known by that name, one of which was 
extremely poisonous. Mattioli gives instances of experiments tried with 
it upon condemned criminals, some of which proved fatal. Mattioli also 
describes and gives figures of the horse-chestnut and lilac, taken from 
branches and seed sent him by Busbecq. 

Quacquelben took advantage of the return of Busbecq's colleagues in 
August 1557, to send Mattioli a box of specimens accompanied by a long 
letter, which, with Mattioli's reply, is printed among the letters of the latter. 

' The sweet or aromatic flag was used as a medicine in cases of bites 
from mad dogs, &c. See Salmon's Herbal. It was also used for scent- 
ing rooms, and for ornamental purposes. See Evelyn's description of 
Lady Clarendon's seat at Swallowfield : ' The waters are flagg'd about 
with Calamus aromaticus, with which my lady has hung a closet that re- 
tains the smell very perfectly.' Diary, p. 490. See also Syme's English 
Botany, vol. ix. p. 1 1 . 



4i6 TURKISH LETTERS. 



ought to say, I had. For, as in this great assemblage 
of Sovereigns, both male and female, here at Frankfort, 
I give, of my own accord, many presents to many 
people as compliments, and am ashamed to refuse 
many others who ask me, what I have left for myself 
is but little. But, while I think my other gifts have 
been well bestowed, there is one of which I regret 
having been so lavish, namely, the balsam,^ because 
physicians have thrown doubts on its genuineness, 
declaring that it has not got all the properties which ac- 
cording to Pliny mark the true balsam, whether because 
the strength of the very old plants, from which it flows, 
has been in some degree impaired by age, or for some 
other reason. This much, at any rate, I know for cer- 
tain, that it flowed from the shrubs which are cultivated 
in the gardens of Matarieh, near Cairo.^ 

Before I left Constantinople I sent a Spanish 
physician, named Albacar, to Lemnos, that he might be 
there on August 6, at the digging out of that famous 
earth,^ and so might write us a full and certain account 
of its position and source, and the mode of extracting 
it and preparing it for use ; which I do not doubt he 
would have done, had he not been prevented by cir- 
cumstances over which he had no control. For a long 
time I wanted to cross over there, that I might be an 
eye-witness myself As the Turks did not allow me 
to do so, I took pains to make myself, at least, an ear- 
witness, if I may say so. 

I am also bringing back a great medley of ancient 
coins, of which I shall present the most remarkable to 
my master. 

I have besides, whole waggonfuls, whole shiploads, 

^ See page 389. 

2 Matarieh, a village near Cairo, occupies the site of the ancient On 
or Heliopolis, where Cleopatra's Needles originally stood. 
^ See page 256 and note. 



MANUSCRIPT OF DIOSCORIDES 417 



of Greek manuscripts. There are, I believe, not much 
fewer than 240 books, which I sent by sea to Venice, 
to be conveyed from there to Vienna, for their destina- 
tion is the Imperial Library. There are some which 
are not to be despised and many common ones. I 
ransacked every corner to collect, in a sort of final 
gleaning, all that remained of such wares. The only one 
I left at Constantinople was a copy of Dioscorides,^ evi- 
dently a very ancient manuscript, Avritten throughout 
in uncial characters and containing drawings of the 
plants, in which, if I am not mistaken, there are also 
some fragments of Cratevas and a treatise on birds. 
It belongs to a Jew, the son of Hamon, who was 
Solyman's physician, and I wanted to buy it, but was 
deterred by the price. For he demanded 100 ducats, 
a sum suiting the Imperial purse, but not mine. I 

' This MS. was purchased by the Emperor, and is still preserved at 
Vienna. It is one of the most ancient and remarkable MSS. in exist- 
ence. It was written at Constantinople, towards the end of the fifth cen- 
tury, for Juliana Anicia, daughter of the Emperor Olybrius, who died A.D. 
472. On the second and third pages are two miniatures, each represent- 
ing seven famous botanists and physicians assembled in consultation. 
Among those represented in the second are Dioscorides himself and 
Cratevas. On the fifth page is a picture of Dioscorides engaged 
in the composition of his work. Visconti considers that the resem- 
blance of the two portraits of Dioscorides proves that they were taken 
from a real original, and are not imaginary. On the sixth page is a 
picture of Juliana Anicia seated on a throne between two allegorical 
figures of Wisdom and Magnanimity. A winged Cupid, above whom is 
written ' The Love of the Creator of Wisdom,' is presenting her with an 
open book, while a kneeling figure entitled Gratitude is kissing the feet 
of the princess. Engravings of these pictures, which, apart from their 
antiquity, are remarkable as works of art, are given by Visconti, Icono- 
graphie Grecque, vol. i. ch. 7, and by Montfaucon, Palceographia Graca, 
bk. iii. ch. 2. Throughout the MS. the description of each plant is illus- 
trated by a figure. 

Dioscorides was a famous botanist and physician, who wrote a cele- 
brated treatise on Materia Medica. Cratevas was a Greek herbalist, who 
is supposed to have lived about the beginning of the first century B.C. 
The great work of Busbecq's friend, Mattioli (see note i page 415), Avas 
his edition of Dioscorides. 

VOL. I. E E 



4i8 TURKISH LETTERS. 

shall not leave off pressing the Emperor till I induce 
him to ransom so famous an author from such foul 
slavery. The manuscript is in very bad condition 
from the injuries of age, being so worm-eaten on the 
outside that hardly anyone, if he found it on the road, 
would take the trouble of picking it up. 

But my letter is too long already ; expect to see^ 
me in person very shortly ; if anything remains to be 
told, it shall be kept for our meeting. But mind you 
invite men of worth and learning to meet me, so that 
pleasant company and profitable conversation may 
serve to rub off the remains of the rust I have con- 
tracted during my long sojourn among the Turks. 
Farewell. 

Frankfort, December i6, 1562. 



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